The GIANTS have put together an impressive season of practice matches and capped off the unusual year with a win over the Saints on Friday afternoon in Brisbane.

GIANTS Assistant Coach Luke Kelly, who has led the side all year, said it was another great opportunity for his charges.

“It was great to get 80 minutes of footy against the Saints,” he said.

“Our boys have been awesome all year in bringing the energy and effort each week no matter if it’s been 11 v 11 or 16 v 16.

“The boys did it again consistently across 80 minutes. They worked on everything they wanted to work on, l they brought their strengths and it was a good day.”

In the coronavirus affected season, the GIANTS have played practice matches of varying lengths and numbers as often as they could, even sharing players with opposition teams at times.

Kelly said the attitude and hard work of the second-tier players has been shown by each player who has returned to the top level across this year.

“You look at the guys who have played in these 12 v 12 or 14 v 14 contests and then still gone in and had an impact at AFL level,” he said.

“That’s what you’re hoping for when you organise these games without the structured competition.

“Our boys were able to nail what they needed to nail in these games and get what they needed to and then transfer it into the AFL.”

Player Summaries by Luke Kelly

Jye Caldwell

“He was outstanding. He played eight AFL games in a row and then had a week off and was unlucky not to get picked but he came back and showed he’s AFL midfielder with his cleanliness and his use out of the midfield and drive. It was really pleasing.”

Lachie Ash

“He played a lot of AFL this year and one thing is pleasing is that when someone like Ashy comes back, he doesn’t drop his AFL standard. He certainly showed that, he brought an AFL-level calibre at half-back in terms of the defensive stuff. He’s been outstanding in his growth this year but also his weapons and his offensive stuff was fantastic for us.”

Jackson Hately

“Jacko continues to develop as that inside mid. He’s got some real strengths inside with his hands and hardness and he really complements the other boys inside as well with his running ability to get from contest to contest. It was another good performance.”

Sam Jacobs

“He was great. Coming out of full forward, he clunked a couple and led up and looked like a centre-half forward at some stages. He’s just a great presence to have in these sort of games and brings real energy to the boys and was able to have a good impact as well.”

Zac Langdon

“Zac was good. He brings his pressure every week but he continued to add his scoreboard pressure. He got on the end of two and looked really lively which was really pleasing.”

Matt Buntine

“Bunts has been outstanding for us all year in terms of his leadership with these young guys down back. There’s a reason Connor Idun goes to AFL level and has an impact and it’s because he plays alongside Bunts most weeks and is able to learn and grow from him. We know Bunts will get his opportunity at some stage, it didn’t happen this year but we know what he brings every week and it’ll come.”

Zach Sproule

“He’s had a great year up forward for us and obviously it’s a hard forward line to crack into. He’s kicked his goals and on Friday we threw him a new challenge and threw him down back. He flourished, all the attributes he has as a key forward he was able to show down back and was able to compete. He won his one-on-ones, showed us his aerial work and kicking and it was a really pleasing performance from Sprouley.”

Harry Himmelberg

“It was really pleasing from Harry. He obviously hasn’t played at this level for a while. He came back and we had a young St Kilda forward playing for us and you could see him giving guidance to him. He continued to communicate and lead down there and when he got his opportunities, we know he’s a class act and he was able to take them.”

Matt Flynn

“Flynny was outstanding in the ruck. He was challenging for that number one ruck spot and he could have easily been disappointed and laid down but he went the complete opposite way and he was probably one of our best on ground.”

Xavier O’Halloran

“He continues to work on what he needs to work on but what we love is when he brings his strengths and his ability to give us drive out of the middle with his power and speed. He was able to add a bit of use too which was great.”

Nick Shipley

“Shippers is doing his apprenticeship at half-back at the moment and every week he continues to get better and better in terms of his understanding on the time to attack and the time to defend. His one-on-one defensive stuff gets better every week, we know he’s got the capabilities to go and play wing and inside and now he’s adding another string to his bow.”

Bobby Hill

“Bobby just got better and better as the game went on. He starts his game on the defensive side of things and as the game wears on we were able to throw him in the middle where he looked really dangerous. He was able to get his hands on it a fair bit and we love the ball in his hands when we’re going forward.’

Adam Kennedy

“Another one coming back from AFL level and he doesn’t drop, he’s Adam Kennedy every week for you. He gives you his hardness and his workrate, his want to compete and he sets a great example for everyone else.”

Jake Stein

“Unfortunately his day ended early with concussion. Some of these boys started a bit slow out of the blocks coming off the eight-week lockdown but each week he got better and better and better and continued to get back to the level we saw last year when he was playing AFL. That was the really pleasing thing, he finished the year stronger than he started.”

Callum Brown

“He played on the wing all day. When you’ve got that speed and that power you tend to get to more contests. The most pleasing thing was his defensive stuff, he was chasing and tackling and closed space. He did all the little things you want and then was able to use his strengths with his 90 metre bombs.”