Giants playing the long game to success

Geelong West Giants coach Dale Smith (GWG Facebook)

By Justin Flynn

Geelong West Giants are undefeated on top of the Geelong Netball League A Grade ladder, but coach Dale Smith insists the club is setting itself up for long-term success and that immediate results are not important in the big scheme of things.

The Giants are fresh from a hard-fought 60 to 36 win against Bell Park and Smith said the evenness of the competition this year was refreshing.

“They’re a pretty good team and to be fair I think the league’s probably in the best shape that it’s been in the time I’ve been around,” he said.

“We’ve played Bell Park, St Mary’s, Leopold and Grovey (Grovedale) and I’ve seen significant change in all of those teams. I think they’re all much stronger than last year. I think it’s nothing but good for the league in general.”

The Giants face St Albans this week and then have a bye and that’s when the hard stuff really begins.

Games against Newtown & Chilwell, Colac, Lara, St Joseph’s and South Barwon will give Smith a clearer indication of where his side is at.

“We’ve had no misconceptions that the middle part of the year is where we hit the teams that traditionally have been the finalists,” Smith said.

“That’s not to say that the first part of the year has been easy. It hasn’t and I think that balance across the league will set us up well. If you’re sitting there looking at wins and losses only, I think that’s a little bit too narrow minded for us. We know where we sit ourselves.

“We’re under no disillusion about where we think we fit in, in the overall structure. Whether or not we’re a top two, top three, top four or top five team, from my perspective it’s more about building the club to have some longevity.”

The Giants are graduating some of last year’s 15 & Under Division 1 premiership side into senior ranks.

“We can’t look at it as in ‘can we win a premiership this year?’ – that’s not really what my job is,” Smith said.

“Yep, my job is to build success and hopefully if we win one in the period I’m here, that’s great. But I hope I set it up for the next coach to win multiple flags.”

The Giants have welcomed back Nikita Handley this season after she had a baby last year. She has fitted into the defensive unit along with goalkeeper Hannah Buchanan and goal defence Karina Martin.

Mimi Lockwood has settled in well since crossing from Newtown & Chilwell and centre courter Alahria Smith was best against the Panthers.