Monday’s Westfund Rehab Report confirmed that both Zac Williams and Isaac Cumming will be unavailable to take on the Hawks with Phil Davis also facing a fitness test due to a hamstring complaint.
With at least one change having to be made to the backline this week, GIANTS Media has taken a deep dive into who’s next in line to step up.
The GIANTS had a number of players present strong cases in a NEAFL practice match last Friday while Leon Cameron could also make some positional changes amongst the team that defeated Collingwood by two points.
Here’s who could find themselves in the backline this week:
He played round one before suffering an injury that limited 27-year old during the break. Development coach Luke Kelly for full of praise for Kennedy: “He came in after an injury layoff and didn’t miss a step. We know exactly what we get from ‘Kenners’. He fights tooth and nail right to the end and his ability to not only defend but join in offence due to his running ability was just a really good return. It looks like he hasn’t missed a beat.”
The inaugural GIANT could be an option to add to his 59 career games with the ability to play on both tall and small opponents. “‘Bunts’ is a pillar of consistency, he doesn’t deviate and brings a high standard week-in and week-out which is why he’s always in the mix for AFL. He’s a strong leader and backs it up with his performance,” said Kelly.
The former ‘Pies player could be a straight swap if Phil Davis doesn’t get up. He played 10 games for the GIANTS last year including the Preliminary Final victory against his former club. “Lachie is in the Buntine mould as well and we know what we get from him. He brings leadership and always competes. He’s in really good form as a backman with his positioning and being able to impact offensively and defensively and is putting his name right up there.”
The second-year defender debuted last year against the Swans in round 20 and would be hungry to return to the top level early on in this season. Kelly says: “He competes, reads it well in the air. His ability to play to play on any type of opponent and hold down a key pillar for us is crucial and he takes another positive step in his development as a key back.”
While he’s spent more time on the wing and half forward so far this season, Whitfield had his career-best season playing across half back in 2018 when he was named in the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team. Plays a similar style to Zac Williams with his run and exceptional foot skills a weapon all over the ground.
He was leading the Coleman Medal after round three but found himself playing in the backline late in the Collingwood match. Has impressed playing defensive roles in the past but is giving the GIANTS plenty of composure in his current role on the wing.
The Penrith product looked at home in the backline during his five games in 2019 after debuting in Hobart. “He’s another one that continues to develop in his consistency as a key back. He’s strong one-on-one and has a good ability to read it in the air and chop out his mates. He’s adding that ability to join in on offence too. Like most of the backs, a strong and consistent performance,” said Kelly.