GWS midfielder Toby Greene got in hot water for this hit

AFL season preview: GWS Giants

The AFL's newest franchise has been banging on the door for a maiden premiership in recent years, and GWS looks in great shape to be one of the contenders again in 2018.

Fairytale runs from the Western Bulldogs and Richmond both cost GWS a chance at a grand final in 2016 and '17, which has got to be frustrating.

But this is a roster that is stacked to the rafters, full of young blood and now armed with the experience that only the pain of two failed finals campaigns can deliver.

But there are some negatives. Shane Mumford, Nathan Wilson, Devon Smith and Steve Johnson are all gone while Zac Williams and Will Setterfield have major injury concerns.

GWS has proven clinical at winning possession and moving the ball when they have it, but they can be suffocated when their opposition is doing the same thing.

The draft class of 2012 are men now and need to be able to turn the tide in a match they are losing, as well as running the show when everything is clicking.

Get that right, overcome their losses and feed off the pain of 2016 and '17 and GWS will be a threat once more.

The key player for the GWS Giants

Toby Greene has been branded the future of the club, locked away in a rich six-year deal that will eliminate contract talk distractions this season.

In the past, Greene's kicking radar has been off and he has had discipline issues as recently as last year.

But despite these infractions, he has been likened to Lance 'Buddy' Franklin and most pundits agree he is worth the $1 million a season GWS are paying him.

If he can stop headbutting, kicking and generally mugging opposition players, he will be a fearsome threat in 2018.

Needs to lift

Brett Deledio has a job to do at half-back following the departures of Wilson (traded) and Williams (ACL).

Those two players were quality ball handlers in their position and the absence of both presents a weak spot on the otherwise hardened GWS belly.

He only managed seven matches in 2017 so this presents a golden chance for Deladio to push back and make the position his own.

The new recruit

Is there a redemption story in the making with Lachlan Keeffe? The former Collingwood defender spent two years on the sidelines after testing positive for Clenbuterol. The 'Pies gave him another chance in 2017, but after he failed to earn a start all season he was inevitably de-listed.

Keeffe is not taking his lifeline at GWS for granted, knowing this is his last shot to live his AFL dream.

The x-factor

If you are going to be earmarked to replace the retired Shane Mumford, it's a handy thing to be mentored by him.

Rory Lobb is almost certain to step into the sizeable shoes but has been working with the superstar ruckman in the off-season to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Dawson Simpson and Matt Flynn are keeping him honest, but the mail is that while Lobb can never be Mumford, he will be a very, very steady replacement.

Ins: Aiden Bonar, Dylan Buckley, Jack Buckley, Brent Daniels (2019), Lachlan Keeffe, Zac Langdon, Sam Reid, Nicholas Shipley, Sam Taylor

Outs: Tom Downie, Steve Johnson, Matthew Kennedy, Tendai M'Zungu, Shane Mumford, Devon Smith, Nathan Wilson

Predicted finish: 4th

About the Author Josh Alston

Josh Alston is a hack with over 12 years industry experience, covering sport across all codes for newspapers and online agencies. Known to frequent grade matches because of their cheap tinnies. Eventually graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism and a Masters in sitting on the hill when the local cricket side was playing. Softball premiership winner, rugby league legend in Year 10 and no stranger to Doomben Racecourse.

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