Dear GIANTS members, 

I hope you are well as we draw closer to the end of 2020. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you again for your continued support. As we have said previously, our AFL campaign didn’t go according to plan this year, for a range of reasons, but your support has been so greatly appreciated by everyone at the club. 

From the outset I want to acknowledge the tragic passing of one of our own in Jacinda Barclay. We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Jacinda, something we’re all still trying to come to terms with. Jacinda joined the GIANTS ahead of the first AFLW season and has been a vibrant, popular part of our club ever since. Jacinda was a trailblazer and a role model for so many male and female athletes, playing across multiple codes at the highest level. We were fortunate to have her at the GIANTS for four seasons, during which time she gave so much to the game and our club. We are working with Jacinda’s family to ensure her life and legacy are recognised accordingly, whilst also providing the family as much support as possible. For those of you who have reached out to our club and Jacinda’s family, thank you for your condolences and support during this extremely sad time.

In the period since our AFL season finished we have been working hard to ensure we return to the AFL finals in 2021. Rest assured, we have clearly identified the key areas for improvement which have led to the implementation of range of initiatives that will benefit us next year and beyond.  

Like all AFL clubs we have been carefully working through the required changes to our football department as a result of a significantly reduced soft cap. This has unquestionably been a difficult process, amplified by a disappointing end to our AFL season. But I’ve been incredibly proud of the way our staff and coaches have dealt with these changes and it’s been pleasing to welcome some familiar faces back to the GIANTS, including our new forwards coach Steve Johnson who rejoins us from the Swans. Steve’s playing career speaks for itself, his football IQ is simply outstanding and he’s already proved to be a real asset to our new coaching group.

We have also spent the past few weeks preparing for the upcoming trade period. You would have already seen that Jeremy Cameron has expressed a desire to exercise his rights as a restricted free agent with a view to moving to Victoria to be closer to his family.

There is still a lot to play out before a potential trade is finalised with all options very much available to us. Whatever the final result, you can be assured that we will get the best possible outcome for the GIANTS, something we have consistently achieved over a long period of time when it comes to the trade period.

As is the case every off-season we will also be farewelling a number of players ahead of bringing in some new faces via the trade period and the AFL Draft.

Each departing player has their own motivation for moving on but the common denominator is that every single player exiting the club this year does so with total respect for the GIANTS culture and a huge amount of affection for our incredible members and supporters.

One player in particular, Heath Shaw, has been central to the GIANTS’ growth and will leave an indelible mark on our club for many years to come.

Heath joined us at a time when we were crying out for experience and leadership and now leaves us as a life-member and a beloved figure of the club. The decision to bring Heath to Sydney seven years has proven to be one of the most significant in our club’s history and I’m sure you would agree we are all indebted for his tireless commitment to the GIANTS and the game in NSW and the ACT. Heath will always be a GIANT.

Player departures are also inevitable for a club like ours that has a stacked playing list with a lot of high-end talent, while free agency has allowed for greater player movement in recent years.

Ultimately the mark of a powerful club is how you respond to challenges and it’s worth remembering that in 2018, Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully, Rory Lobb and Will Setterfield left our football club. Less than 12 months later we were playing off in a Grand Final.

You have helped us build a powerful club and together we will respond appropriately.

I’ve heard some suggestion that we may be entering a re-build phase. This is not the case. While on-field we will make some necessary adjustments across the off-season, our sights are firmly set on the 2021 Premiership. We’re looking forward to commencing our pre-season in December and setting about preparing for a significant year, our tenth in the AFL competition.

Before our AFL players get back to work, our AFLW players begin their pre-season next month. After reaching our first ever AFLW finals series earlier this year, I know everyone one of our players has their sights firmly set on securing a maiden GIANTS Premiership in 2021. 

We are delighted with the players we selected in the recent AFLW Draft, including two outstanding young players from the ACT. The female talent pool in NSW and the ACT continues to expand every year which will have us well placed for sustained success at the elite level for a long time to come. And while we continue to await details from the AFL of the 2021 AFLW season format, we are prepared for all scenarios. 

We are set for a big few months across both the men’s and women’s programs and as members, you will be the first to know of any news or developments. There will also be opportunities for you to connect with our key people in the coming weeks so keep an eye out for those opportunities.

Thank you again for your continued support in 2020 - we hope wherever you are in Australia you are staying safe. 

Kind regards, 

David Matthews