Interim GWS coach Mark McVeigh had players texting him to apologize for their performance after Saturday’s heavy loss to Sydney in a clear sign his connection with the group is strong.
McVeigh’s brutally honest post-match press conference after the 73-point thrashing saw him declare some players had “checked out” and “embarrassed” the club.
McVeigh also named the eight players he believed “went to the wall” against the Swans, with his public admissions raising concerns of player unrest before a trade period the salary cap-strapped Giants will be very active in.
But a player-led meeting after the Sydney loss where many took ownership of their failings was followed by an already-organized Sunday barbecue attended by players, their partners and staff.
The Giants are aware there is a lot of work to do to restore the premiership credentials of a club that hasn’t finished top-four since 2017.
GWS have won only 25 of 60 games since playing off in the 2019 Grand Final and like Collingwood in recent times, now face the prospect of picking up the pieces of a failed premiership tilt.
That is somewhat complicated by the fact this is a playing list that has a handful of players on salaries hovering around $1 million a season, such as Josh Kelly, Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield.
The Giants will be among the most active participants in the upcoming trade period as they look to balance the books.
Tanner Bruhn’s desire to return to Victoria will see him leave only two years after being taken at pick 12 in the 2020 draft, while Bobby Hill has been wanting a trade since last year.
Tim Taranto is out of contract and widely expected to seek a fresh start. His midfield running mate Jacob Hopper is contracted for next year, but has become Geelong’s No.1 trade target.
Indeed, most bets are off when it comes to the Giants’ list management direction. Haynes has been raised by GWS as a trade prospect, but is highly unlikely to move given his age and the back-ended nature of his contract.
Whitfield signed a seven-year contract through until 2027, but can’t be ruled out as a trade option.
While Whitfield has not been formally discussed at list management level at GWS, there are some at the club who are willing to entertain the prospect.
The Giants sit 16th with three games to come against Essendon, Western Bulldogs and Fremantle.
They are currently searching for a senior coach having met Alastair Clarkson multiple times in recent months.