They deny going from being bullied to being bullies, but GWS Giants are certainly happy to be known for having a physical edge to their AFL game.
In last weekend’s preliminary final upset over Sydney, the relentless Giants laid 32 more tackles than the club which leads the competition in that category.
With feisty veterans Shane Mumford and Steve Johnson leading the way, GWS showed they had the aggressive substance to go with their attractive playing style
It was a far cry from the physically light early GWS teams who suffered losses by 10 or more goals 14 times in each of their first two seasons.
The scrawny teenagers from those years are now strong, fully developed athletes, steeled and shaped by five years of strength and conditioning in the AFL system.
Fast forward to 2016 and it’s the Giants dealing out the beatings, with seven wins of over 60 points in the current campaign.
Star forward Jeremy Cameron said the physicality his side displayed against Sydney was something they wanted to bring to every game.
“It’s something that we’ve had to work on a lot over the last few years,” Cameron said.
“From the start it was probably the last thing; you’re just worried about getting a kick at the start.
“Tackling and that sort of stuff, our defensive side of our game is something we really had to work hard on and guys like (Giants’ assistant coaches) Lenny Hayes and Luke Power really put in the hard time with us.
“It’s great to see that hard work paying off.”
Foundation players like Cameron and utility Adam Tomlinson are relishing the good times having come through the bad.
“We were bullied for our first three years and we got used to losing,” Tomlinson said.
“That’s why we probably celebrate wins as well as we do now, because they were few and far between in our first few years.”
Tomlinson denied it was case of the Giants turning bullies.
“We try not to bully teams, but we do want to play a contested brand of football,” he said.
“If it does come out that we are playing really good footy and we do over-run a team, then so be it.”
Giants’ midfielder Josh Kelly said “we want to be known for our toughness, contested footy (and) tackling”.