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Fledgling club has to beware second-year syndrome after Folau fizzer

David Polkinghorne

Published: December 27 2012 - 3:00AM

Preparing for Life After Izzy - that's the giant task facing Greater Western Sydney this year.

Will their supporter base pack its bags and follow him from Blacktown to Parramatta? And then follow him across to the NSW Waratahs?

Or will they accept that it was a PR stunt that went horribly wrong and remain loyal to the grey-and-charcoal guernsey?

The Gold Coast Suns were widely slated by the media for failing to show any improvement in 2012 after debuting the previous year.

They even gave GWS their first win, by 27 points at Manuka Oval.

Second-year syndrome is something the Giants will need to avoid next year if they are going to take advantage of any of the spotlight Israel Folau drew their way.

After just two years into his $6 million, four-year deal, the former rugby league winger called it quits and has wound up with Super Rugby team the Waratahs.

''In the end, I think the passion wasn't quite there,'' Folau said when he quit.

''In the end if I stayed, I felt like I would have been cheating myself. I had to be honest and move forward.''

Now they'll just have to make do with a forward line boasting Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron - two future stars, whose passion for the game was undoubted.

There was a cameo by Canberra's Josh Bruce in the Giants' attack on debut, when he kicked the club's first AFL goal on Manuka Oval.

That forward line could have been bolstered by the addition of Adelaide Crows forward Kurt Tippett, who ran out on the team he helped to a preliminary final before nominating for the pre-season draft and stating the Sydney Swans as his preferred home.

The Giants considered using their No. 1 pick to snaffle the forward, but baulked at his asking price of $3.5 million over four years.

GWS chief executive David Matthews said Tippett's 11-week suspension was also a factor, after Tippett and the Crows were found guilty of salary cap breaches and draft tampering.

''Internally we established a value for Kurt Tippett based on his capabilities and whilst we were hopeful, his terms submitted this week confirmed that we are simply not in a position to pay what he wants, particularly for a player who will miss most of the year through suspension,'' Matthews said at the time.

Giants coach and master spruiker Kevin Sheedy has targeted six wins for next season.

It might sound ridiculous, but a quick look at the draw makes it a distinct possibility, with Canberra a chance of seeing two of those.

The Giants play Melbourne, Gold Coast and Port Power twice, as well as the Western Bulldogs once - all realistic chances.

Throw in a round 17 clash against Essendon - the Bombers haven't won many games lately after May - and six wins is on the radar.

It is certainly more likely than the return of controversial triple premiership player Jason Akermanis to play for the Tuggeranong Hawks in the NEAFL eastern conference.

The former Brisbane Lions star descended on Canberra for a one-off appearance and helped the Hawks to their only win of the season - a 29-point triumph over the Giants reserves at Greenway Oval.

He came, he rode a Harley Davidson and he conquered.

But the walking headline has embarked on his coaching career, taking charge of North Albury in the Ovens and Murray league.

His appearance was a massive boost for the club, with the Hawks taking about $39,000 for the day.

It is doubtful Tuggeranong will be able to use celebrity appearances again in the future, with ''Aker'' claiming the AFL tried to stop him from playing in 2012.

''I think the AFL have an agenda I don't know anything about, for whatever reason. I don't understand, I ring them, they don't ring back, they can't tell me why,'' he told The Canberra Times at the time.

With both Folau and Akermanis lost to Canberra, it will be up to footy to do the marketing in 2013.

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