Melbourne coach Paul Roos believes it possible, and his Greater Western Sydney counterpart Leon Cameron agrees a Demons-Giants AFL grand final within five years is not that far-fetched.
Having successfully retained a handful of stars and with last season’s injury woes seemingly behind them, the Giants appear poised for a maiden finals berth.
The expansion side begin their 2016 campaign against the Demons at the MCG on Saturday, in a clash Roos has boldly tipped as a preview for a potential season-decider inside this decade.
And Cameron is hopeful his improved squad are on the right track to make it happen.
“If he can guarantee that I’ll take it any day of the week, Cameron said.
“I totally understand what Roos is saying and agree that the Giants, Gold Coast and Melbourne are all similar in that we’re young – the average age is about the same – and all three clubs have gone to the draft to build our footy clubs.
“Obviously we’ve gone from scratch, (while) Melbourne have probably rebuilt over the last three or four years and picked up some terrific kids.
“So we’re all chugging along, but the proof will be in the pudding over the next couple of years.”
Either way Cameron said Melbourne would provide a solid measurement of how the club’s pre-season stands up, citing both sides’ perfect three-from-three NAB Challenge records.
While the Demons boast a near-full list, the Giants will be without suspended star forward Jeremy Cameron, though the coach was confident with his pick of replacements including Adam Tomlinson, Rory Lobb and James Stewart.
“You’re never going to be able to replace a player of Jeremy’s ilk, but when you grow as a footy club you’ve got to be able to absorb that,” Cameron said.
Want-away forward Cam McCarthy would have been the obvious option in the past, but now back in Perth on indefinite leave he is at long odds to return.
Jonathon Patton is another option, but Cameron is keen for the fit-again 22-year-old to regain the continuity shown in 2014.
Meanwhile, key Giants Tom Scully and ruckman Shane Mumford have been left out of a revamped and expanded leadership group helmed again by co-captains Phil Davis and newly re-signed Callan Ward.
Emerging stars Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith, Stephen Coniglio and Matt Buntine will step into Scully and Mumford’s shoes as the club looks to its younger talent to take them forward.
Heath Shaw will again take up the vice-captain’s role.