Ablett boost for Manuka
Mitchell Evans, 10, and Cam Evans, 13, turn out to support the Giants at Manuka Oval. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Greater Western Sydney is hoping Gary Ablett will impersonate the Pied Piper and lure a massive crowd to Manuka Oval in a fortnight.
The Gold Coast superstar looks set to make his return from a knee injury when the AFL's two newest teams do battle in Canberra on Saturday, May 12.
GWS chief executive David Matthews would love nothing better than for the 2009 Brownlow medallist and dual premiership player to thrill the nation's capital - even if it does make the Giants' chances of winning their first AFL game a hell of a lot harder.
Giants supporters show their colours at Manuka Oval. Photo: Rohan Thomson
GWS beat the Suns by 13 points in the NAB Cup (their only win this year) and while Matthews is desperate for his young club to do it again during the season proper, he still wants Ablett to play.
''He's a star of the competition and that's one of the things that we want to be able to do is any time we're playing we're hopefully bringing stars of the competition to Sydney or Canberra,'' Matthews said.
''That's one of the great things about having a second club in NSW and the ACT is people are just going to get to see more of the stars.''
The Giants were buoyed by Saturday's competitive performance against the Western Bulldogs, losing by 42 points after leading at quarter-time, as well as the solid, 9128-strong crowd in their first game for premiership points at Manuka.
It has Matthews confident of a big crowd in two weeks' time, especially considering GWS's chance of victory against an also winless Gold Coast.
GWS sold an additional 260 Canberra memberships during the week and $22,000 worth of merchandise on game day.
Which explains the sea of orange that ringed a sunshine drenched Manuka.
Plenty of punters wore two teams' colours - a scarf or shirt of the club they support as well as a Giants cap.
Which is fine by Matthews, who wants the ACT to embrace the Giants - even if only as its second team.
''I think it's great to see so many fans of all clubs coming out yesterday simply in support of AFL in Canberra. The signs are pretty good, ticking close to 9000 members all up now and a good crowd yesterday, so hopefully the fan base of the club is building,'' he said.
SATURDAY, MAY 12
AFL round seven: GWS Giants v Gold Coast Suns at Manuka Oval, 1.40pm. Tickets available through Ticketmaster.