Following their most successful season to date, the Greater Western Sydney Giants are hoping history will be made in 2016 with their first ever finals appearance.
The Giants finished 11th in 2015 with 11 wins and 11 losses to their name. For the majority of the season, they held a place in the AFL’s top eight before falling out in the latter rounds.
The Giants will kick off their 2016 AFL campaign this Saturday afternoon with a Round 1 clash against the Melbourne Demons at the MCG. Speaking with the Weekender, Giants midfielder Lachie Whitfield believes continued improvement is the key to playing finals footy in 2016.
“Internally we are just looking at winning more games than last year and showing improvement,” he said.
“It’s everyone’s aim to make finals but if we can make an improvement on last year, it will be a successful year.”
After a hot and gruelling pre-season, the 21-year-old Victorian is looking forward to getting back out onto the field and putting everything he learned into action.
“As the game changes you have to do different things to keep up,” he said.
“Our pre-season did change a little bit – it was more constructive instead of just running different drills. The coaching staff incorporated everything into gameplay situations, so you learn the game plan early while getting fit at the same time.
“We trained shorter but harder, which was much more enjoyable for the boys.”
Whitfield was the AFL’s number one pick at the 2012 AFL Draft, and has since played 51 games in his first three seasons in the league.
Last year the Dandenong Stingrays junior played 21 games, kicking six goals.
While Whitfield rates his career so far as “somewhat inconsistent”, he is hoping to finally live up to the expectations of being a former number one pick.
“I think expectations are higher on everyone this year, in our team, and our club,” he said.
“Personally, the ‘number one pick’ tag doesn’t mean much to me or to anyone at the club.
“There’s pressure around me to perform this year – I’m coming into my fourth year – but it’s pressure I place on myself.
“We all want to be the best we can be.”
The Giants will look to start their season with a bang when they battle the Demons at 1.40pm this Saturday in Melbourne.
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.