David Polkinghorne April 12, 2012
Stephen Coniglio. Photo: Getty Images
Hawthorn legend Dermott Brereton sees five stars emerging from Greater Western Sydney's young group - but the Giants' $12-million-dollar men aren't two of them.
Both Tom Scully and rugby league convert Israel Folau reportedly have $6 million contracts with GWS but the former Hawk and new part-time Giants forward coach saw another five young guns emerging to lead Kevin Sheedy's side up the table.
Considering the amount of money and publicity both Scully and Folau have attracted over the last 18 months, you could assume at least one would be mentioned by Brereton.
But instead he thought Rising Star nominee Jeremy Cameron, Curtly Hampton, Stephen Coniglio, Tomas Bugg and Jonathon Patton could form a core group of players capable of delivering success to the heartland of rugby league.
''The boy on the half-forward flank, Hampton, he's got some real talent about him, Coniglio has beautiful hands in close and I don't mind Tomas Bugg at all, a bloke who's playing down back,'' he told The Canberra Times yesterday.
''He kicks the ball very, very well and is not out of place against big, senior bodies. Cameron we know has got talent, it's whether we see a growing desire and a grunt in him to match that talent and then we could have something quite extraordinary.
''And Patton I haven't seen, I've only seen the junior footage of him, I want to see him in open circumstances.''
Brereton said a similar-sized group of stars had been responsible for West Coast Eagles' renewed presence as an AFL powerhouse.
Just two seasons ago the Eagles finished last but last year they surprised pundits by climbing to fourth on the ladder and falling one game short of the grand final.
The return from injury of players like Daniel Kerr and Dean Cox had led to the quick turnaround.
When the two teams meet at Blacktown on Sunday - the Giants' first AFL game at their new home ground - it will give an insight into where the new club wants to be in a few years. The key is developing that handful of stars and building a top-four side around them.
''Put it this way, those five champions, if you wanted to get five champions I'd say pick the first 15 draft choices in any one year,'' Brereton said, mentioning last year's draft where GWS had 11 of the first 14 picks.
''You could say it could be a glimpse into the future, there's a lot of water to pass under the bridge and if they get fat around the head things could go awry. But on a numbers game there are some boys playing out there now who we're going to be speaking about in glowing circumstances within 40-50 games.''
Considering the one-sided nature of last weekend's 129-point loss to North Melbourne, no one is expecting GWS to get anywhere near an unbeaten West Coast.
While Brereton thought bigger upsets had happened in world sport, he wasn't picking the Giants in his footy tips.
He believed the final margin was irrelevant and they needed to get through without any injuries and their pride intact.
''If they were competitive to the 15-minute mark of the last quarter and West Coast piled on 10 goals, I'd think that would be a better result than drifting out by 70 points for the whole game,'' Brereton said.
''The longer they stay competitive in the game is the pass mark. I'm not really looking at the scoreboard … it's how long they can stay competitive in the game.''
GWS Giants v West Coast Eagles, at Blacktown International Sports Park, 1.10pm.
TV time: Live on 7 mate and Fox Footy.