The 2024 Smithy’s VFL season gets underway this weekend with the GIANTS kicking off their campaign with a clash against Footscray at Whitten Oval on Sunday.

Ahead of the season-opener, we sat down with GIANTS VFL head coach Wayne Cripps to get his thoughts on the upcoming campaign.

Entering his second season in charge with a youthful list and a high number of recruits, Cripps says the key focus of 2024 is once about developing the club’s young players in order to help them reach their AFL dreams.


“We bring in young guys, there wouldn’t be too many guys that we brought in over the age of 20, and most of our list is under the age of 20-21,” Cripps said.

“We really focus on youth [with our recruiting] and good characters that are highly driven guys who are still either trying to get to the highest level they can, or just guys that want to be really good VFL players and who are really committed to that.

“Our main focus once again this year is around development. We want to make sure we are getting guys AFL ready and ready to bang down the door down for selection each week.

“Then also with our first-year guys coming in, our focus is about trying to educate them around our system and getting them ready to play AFL footy.

“As long as we are doing that then we are going to be happy, and if we are doing that then the wins and losses take care of themselves.”


“With a lot of new players coming in, a lot of our pre-season has been about educating them on the system and how we want to play - both offensively and defensively,” Cripps said.

“With such a large number of new players you sort of go back to square one a bit in terms of teaching them the system, but the guys that have been here previously have been really good in driving that learning and getting guys up to speed as quick as we possibly can.

“Thankfully all the new guys have been super. A part of our recruiting process is bringing in guys who haven’t already got those habits in how they play so that when they get here, they are just sponges who want to learn and want to just play VFL footy, and their attitude and effort in wanting to play in our system has been super.”


“Max has really come on, obliviously it’s year two for him and he’s shown he’s ready to take his game to the next level,” Cripps said of the promising 19-year-old.

“He’s had a really good pre-season and a really good practice game against Southport on the weekend and he’s really starting to develop into a strong and consistent key forward.

“Last year his season got cut short by injury, but he’s come back bigger and strong and ready to be our number one key forward.”


“He’s an absolute bull,” Cripps said of the former Swans AFL-listed midfielder.

“He’s hard and tough and that’s exactly what we want to be known for, and he really leads the way in that. He’s someone in that space that’s going to be a really important player for us.

“He’s new to the club and he’s already one of the leaders of the group, on field and off field.

“He’s a great character and a great guy, and he leads by putting his snout in the trough every time, and I’m sure he’s in for a big year.”


“We are feeling really good,” Cripps said.

“We’ve only had the two practice matches so we know we aren’t going to be at our best straight up, but the exciting part is we know we will keep getting better each week and the game against Footscray is another chance to get out there and get reps in our system and keep building.”

Possessing one of the youngest lists in the competition, the GIANTS’ VFL side held its own for much of the 2023 season to finish a game outside of the Wildcard round and only just miss the chance of a finals campaign.

Cripps, who joined the GIANTS on a three-year deal in 2023 to both lead the VFL program and work as a development coach with the AFL side, will now look to continue the VFL side’s rise as it aims for finals in 2024.


  1. Ryan Hebron - captain
  2. Marc Sheather (new)
  3. Will Shaw
  4. Harper Montgomery (new)
  5. James Creighton
  6. Tom McCaffrey
  7. Ethan Williams (new)
  8. Nick Quigg (new)
  9. Charlie McCormack (new - played games in 2023 as a top-up)
  10. Georgio Varagiannis
  11. Taine Moraschi
  12. Billy Clark
  13. Jackson Bowne (new)
  14. Matt Harms (new)
  15. Izaac Hughes (new)
  16. Kale Gabila (new)
  17. Daniel Gauci (new - played games in 2023 as a top-up)
  18. Sam House (new)
  19. Joel Rush (new)
  20. Ethan Grace (new)
  21. Logan Smith (new)
  22. Josaia Delana (new - played games in 2023 as a top-up)
  23. Cooper Bell (new)
  24. Jensen Hargreaves (new)