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Giants building for flag tilt

Date

David Polkinghorne

Lachie Whitfield is expected to be drafted by GWS in this year's national draft.

Lachie Whitfield is expected to be drafted by GWS in this year's national draft. Photo: Paul Rovere

Greater Western Sydney's recruiting strategy is a ''masterstroke'' and the club is building towards a premiership in ''three to four years'', according to dual North Melbourne premiership player David King.

He also thought the Giants should continue to stockpile the best young talent, even if it meant they got an excess of midfielders.

The Giants have five of the first 13picks in this year's draft on the Gold Coast on November 22, on top of the 11 of the first 14 they had last year. It has many experts predicting an uber-powerful GWS side dominating the AFL landscape for years to come.

Dandenong utility Lachie Whitfield is widely expected to go at No.1, with the Giants holding the first three picks.

King admired the way Giants list manager Stephen Silvagni had gone about accumulating early draft picks.

The 1996 and 1999 premiership winner thought it was a vastly superior strategy than the one adopted by fellow newcomers Gold Coast Suns and was a plan that none of the existing clubs would be able to replicate.

''They've targeted what they think will be their time of winning a flag … and that's the direction you need at AFL level at clubland and I think it's been fantastic,'' King told The Canberra Times.

''Do they have weaknesses now? Absolutely they do. And do they know that? Of course they do … but does it matter? Absolutely not.

''It's not about next year, it's about winning a flag, which in my opinion they're setting themselves up to do in three to four years' time.''

Rather than worry about trying to fix any deficiencies in their list, King thought Silvagni should just go after the best young talent, regardless of their position.

He said the opportunity to trade for specific positions would be there closer to their premiership window, similar to how Collingwood recruited Darren Jolly to bolster its ruck stocks before winning the 2010 flag.

Even if it meant GWS had a plethora of gun midfielders, King thought it would lead to a super-strong list and the club becoming a force in the AFL.

''Just keep recruiting class, you just can't beat it,'' he said. ''They just keep recruiting these gun kids, they'll just keep flooding their football club with stars and at some point it has to pay dividends.''

While King said the Giants' handful of first-round draft picks spelt trouble for the rest of the competition, AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan was more circumspect. He felt the art of drafting was not an exact science and simply having high draft picks didn't guarantee good players - not every acorn grows into an oak.

Sheehan pointed to Adam Goodes and James Hird, who were taken low down in the draft, but still became brilliant players.

''Not everyone unfolds the way people think they might,'' he said.

''Your draft position doesn't mean you're going to be a star. Adam Goodes went at 40, Simon Black at 31 and James Hird in the 70s. Potential doesn't end up landing you a star.''

Sheehan been working on his annual top-30 draft prospects following the completion of the various draft combines around the country. The talent guru gave The Canberra Times 12 names, in no particular order, he thought would be picked up in next month's draft.

Sheehan described Eastlake forward Liam Flaherty as a ''contender'' to get taken after impressing at the under-18 nationals this year.

SHEEHAN'S DOZEN

AFL national talent manager Kevin Sheehan rates the best young talent ahead of next month's national draft

Joe Daniher, 18, ruckman, 201cm

Will go to Essendon at pick 10 under father-son rule. Left-footed tall forward/ruckman who is exceptional overhead and an accurate set shot for goal. Has rare mobility for a player of his size.

Dayle Garlett, 18, midfielder, 181cm

The cousin of Carlton's Jeff Garlett, a smooth-moving onballer, won All Australian honours this year. He has played senior WAFL football with Swan Districts.

Brodie Grundy, 18, ruckman, 202cm

Excels in directing the ball at stoppages and can be a dangerous marking target up forward. All Australian under-18 honours in 2011 and has played senior football with Sturt in the SANFL. Backed it up this year becoming a dual All Australian.

Kristian Jacksch, 17, key position, 194cm

Tall forward/defender who is extremely strong overhead. Kicked six goals against Tasmania and uses the ball well by foot when in defence.

Jackson Macrae, 18, midfielder, 188cm

Versatile medium midfielder who can also go back or forward.

Sam Mayes, 18, forward, 187cm

Had a quieter than expected AFL under-18 championships, but gained All Australian honours in 2011 as a bottom-age player. Has good speed and elite agility.

Tim Membrey, 18, full forward, 189cm

A big, mobile and physical full-forward. Kicked four goals in Gippsland Power's one-point grand final loss to the Oakleigh Chargers.

Jonathon O'Rourke, 18, midfielder, 183cm

A prolific ball winner and smart user of the ball. All Australian and AIS-AFL Academy graduate.

Josh Simpson, 18, midfielder/forward, 183cm

Has exciting natural speed and agility. Dangerous player around goal and very capable overhead for a player of his size.

Jimmy Toumpas, 18, midfielder, 183cm

Energetic medium midfielder with outstanding work ethic and big aerobic capacity. Among the best for 2011 SANFL premiers Woodville West Torrens.

Lachie Whitfield, 18, midfielder, 184cm

Modelled his game on Shane Crawford and was in the under-18 All-Australian team for the second successive year. Awarded the Larke Medal for the best player in division one of the national junior championships.

Oliver Wines, 17, midfielder, 185cm

Strong medium midfielder who wins plenty of contested ball. Has elite endurance and can push forward and hit the scoreboard. Ferocious tackler who is a good overhead mark.

 

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