The inside story of Kieren Briggs’ rise at the Giants

Kieren Briggs signing a young fan’s Croc.
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He’s an integral part of a Giants team that’s undefeated and leading the competition to start the season, but if it wasn’t for one of his mates growing up, Kieren Briggs’ life would be a lot different right now.

Like any child living in western Sydney, Briggs played numerous sports at school like soccer, rugby league and athletics, but it’s the story of how he stumbled upon Aussie Rules that’s really quite astonishing.

“I was staying at a friend’s place, having a sleepover one weekend, and his dad was from Melbourne and had an AFL background. My friend was playing junior footy at Pennant Hills and they needed someone to fill in one Sunday morning,” Briggs told the Weekender.

“I enjoyed it so much that I ended up playing the rest of the season after filling in that one weekend. Everything just took off from there.”

After taking to his new sport like a duck to water, Briggs would quickly rise the ranks and, before he knew it, was being drafted by GWS with 34th pick in the 2018 AFL Draft.

“I made the U12’s side for school and found the Giants Academy when I was 13-years-old,” Briggs said.

“I was only a kilometre outside of being in the Swans Academy zone. Pennant Hills was technically Sydney Swans territory but my parents growing up in Carlingford happened to sneak into the Giants Academy zone and I’m pretty happy I was on that side now.”

GWS Giants players, including Kieren Briggs, visited junior AFL clubs last month.

Since making his AFL debut in 2021, the 24-year-old is now considered one of the best young ruckmen in the game.

Given an opportunity in Round 10 last season, Briggs went on to play the final 17 games to play a huge role in helping the Giants make a Preliminary Final.

Briggs finished the 2023 season leading all ruckmen across the competition for clearances per game while ranking third in tackles and sixth for possessions.

Not bad for a kid who wasn’t supposed to be playing the sport if it weren’t for a bit of fate.

After his own unlikely entry into the sport, Briggs is now determined to help unearth the next wave of western Sydney talent.

During the Giants’ bye week last month, Briggs and his teammates visited numerous junior AFL clubs around western Sydney to inspire the youth of today – preaching that ‘anything is possible’.

Briggs says he remembers current Gold Coast Suns captain Jarrod Witts visiting his junior club when he was younger.

“From memory, I had Jarrod Witts come out when he was at Collingwood because I was playing with his younger brother Lleyton at the time,” Briggs said.

“It was cool to see him come out and then a full circle moment happened because I play against him these days.

“The calibre of kids coming through since doing these club visits has been getting better and better each year. We’re hoping to develop more AFL players in the future that come from western Sydney.”

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