Giles drives the Giants
HE'S the ruckman both Gold Coast and Port Adelaide rejected but Jonathan Giles is looming as a major factor in whether Greater Western Sydney can bring up its first AFL win when it takes on the Suns at Manuka Oval tomorrow.
Giles spent four seasons on Port's list as the apprentice to Dean Brogan but has stepped out of the shadows to emerge as a driving force for the Giants midfield.
The Suns spoke to Giles when he was playing for Sturt in the SANFL but nothing ever came of it.
Instead they opted for Zac Smith, who has been likened to West Coast superstar Dean Cox, and Collingwood discard Josh Fraser.
Giles holds no grudges against Gold Coast and is loving life at GWS.
He understands how the AFL works, having spent four years on Port Adelaide's list without playing a game.
Now the 24-year-old will go up against Smith as both clubs look for their first win of the season.
The 200-centimetre Giant will have to shoulder most of the ruck duties after Brogan injured his elbow against Carlton, putting him out for four to six weeks. He'll be backed up by 20-year-old rookie Andrew Phillips, who has been elevated to the senior list to replace injured key forward Setanta O'hAilpin (knee).
If Giles can win the battle it will help the Giants midfield try to stifle the influence of Gary Ablett - the best player in the competition.
''Ablett's such a great player he's going to be hard to stop. You can only try to minimise his influence on the game to a degree but he's always going to get the footy,'' Giles said.
''I don't think you can stop him, you've just got to try and minimise him. I'll try to hit the ball away from him I guess.''
Giles has instantly adapted to the rigours of rucking in the AFL and he puts it down to the time he spent with the Power, under coach Mark Williams.
While he never played a game, he learnt a lot about the art of tapwork from established ruckmen Brendan Lade and Brogan, before getting de-listed at the end of 2009.
It also gave him the drive to return to the top level and make his debut. After being de-listed, he set about proving himself as a No.1 ruck at Sturt and the Giants came knocking. Williams, Brogan and Chad Cornes are also at the Giants, as assistant coaches, making it something of a Power reunion for Giles.
''When you officially get told you are de-listed you've got a lot of time to think about what happened and do you think you can get back into the AFL system. I always believed that my opportunity was still in front of me,'' the 24-year-old said.
''I knew I only had a year or two window of opportunity to get back into the system and so I devoted every minute of my time into training and becoming a better person and a better player to give myself the best opportunity.''
Giles is also a handy goal kicker. His ability to drift forward and take contested marks - and then kick truly - is an added bonus for the Giants, especially with O'hAilpin to miss the rest of the season.