Greater Western Sydney co-captain Callan Ward says the Giants should no longer be considered the “little brother” of the harbour city AFL derby as they chase a first SCG win on Saturday.
Sydney have a 7-1 overall record against the Giants and have won all three of their SCG encounters against GWS, who have just started their fifth season at the top level.
The early-season lineups of both teams underlined that the once-vast experience gap between the two clubs has closed drastically.
The Swans’ round-one contained three debutants, 11 players aged 23 or under and 12 with 53 games or less experience.
Conversely, the Giants had no debutants and while they had 14 players aged 23 or under, they fielded ten with 53 or fewer appearances.
Sydney didn’t field anyone aged over 29 for their first game, while GWS included 32-year-old Steve Johnson and 30-year-old Heath Shaw.
“Our average age isn’t too much less than (Sydney’s),” Ward said on Tuesday.
“Everyone talks about the big brother-little brother, it’s not really that anymore.”
Swans’ coach John Longmire stressed two circumstances had combined to close the gap between the two teams.
“The maturity and the recruiting of GWS and we’ve probably lost a bit of experience,” Longmire said.
“Those two things have meant the teams are a bit closer matched this week.”
GWS thumped Sydney by 34 points in a NAB Challenge game just over a month ago, when both teams fielded fairly strong sides.
“They were far too good for us,” Longmire said.
“We learnt some lessons that night.”
Sydney looked pedestrian on that occasion, seemingly lacking the foot speed of the Giants.
“It was certainly questioned over that pre-season period and I think the other main factor was that we weren’t winning a lot of contested ball,” Swans’ co-captain Kieren Jack said.
“We were a little bit off in that pre-season.
“We still think we’ve got some speed on the outside that can be more than dangerous for opposition sides.
“Jake Lloyd and Harry Cunningham are probably a little bit under-estimated by opposition teams.”
The only injury concern for either side coming off last weekend is a syndesmosis issue for young Giants’ key defender Caleb Marchbank, who coach Leon Cameron said would be sidelined for up to eight weeks.
He is likely to be replaced by Joel Patfull or Nick Haynes.