MEET YOUR NEW AFLW GIANTS: The interstaters

This article was written by Caitlin Arnold.

There are few stand-alone team colours in the AFL or AFLW, which instantly trigger thoughts of one specific team.

Yellow needs black, for instance, to conjure thoughts of Richmond. And red seeks white to ‘cheer cheer’ for the Sydney Swans. But there are a handful of famous hues that immediately take footy fans to one club, all on their own.

There is the famous Navy Blue, of course, which immediately brings one of the oldest footy clubs, Carlton, to mind. And most recently, orange, which provokes scenes of the sun setting over Spotless Stadium for the game’s newest club, the GWS GIANTS.

Rebecca Privitelli has now played for both the Blues, and as of the past weekend, officially for the GIANTS too.

As one of the bigger signings for the team from Western Sydney during the AFL Women’s off-season, Privitelli is just one of a long list of interstate players to join the Orange Army in 2018.

At 23-years-old, Privitelli will bring with her to Homebush an accomplished Australian Football career. She played from an Auskick age, through juniors – with the boys in those days – and then for Victoria in the then-fledgling, now thriving, national Youth Girls competition.

While the GIANTS finished eighth on the AFLW ladder in 2017, their somewhat unexpected ability to push other teams to the limit – including Privitelli’s former club in Round 2 – has seemingly inspired well-known players from other states to cross the New South Wales border. A rumoured close-knit club culture too, also had the big names come knocking.

“A massive driver for me was a good culture, where people wanted to play and really enjoy their footy,” explains Privitelli on her move north – then west.

“It’s a really different environment [in Sydney]. It doesn’t really matter what team you play for, everyone just kind of gets behind and supports you.

“I really like the fact that it’s just us up here. I mean, it’s great, you have other friends from other teams in Victoria, but up here you all stick together and kind of go on the journey together. It makes us a much tighter group and I think that’s really strong, and something that you really need going into this competition.”

Having originally played in the Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) competition with the Eastern Devils, Privitelli already knew the likes of 2017 GIANTS, Louise Stephenson, Jessica Dal Pos and Alex Saundry, having played either with or against them during their young footy careers.

As well, Privitelli has played against another major signing for the GIANTS, former Collingwood Vice-Captain, Alicia Eva who has already had a marked impact on her new club. Being recently named Vice-Captain of the GIANTS as the deputy to local hero, Amanda ‘Fridge’ Farrugia, Eva headlined the club’s off-season movements.

Named as runner-up in the Magpies’ Best and Fairest for 2017 as well as selected in the final 2017 AFLW All-Australian squad, Eva has been playing the game her entire life.

An accomplished coach as well as leader – at the age of just 26 – Eva has also recently taken the reins of the state AFL NSW/ACT Youth Girls squad, assisted ably by her GWS GIANTS teammate, Nicola Barr for the 2018 season.

Also from the VFLW, comes Tanya Hetherington from last year’s VFLW Grand Finalists, Diamond Creek.

Returning to local footy in 2017 following an ACL injury, Hetherington Co-Captained her beloved ‘Creekers’ with now Collingwood Captain, Steph Chiocci, and has subsequently been added to the GIANTS’ leadership group this year.

An experienced defender, Hetherington will be looked upon to bolster the GIANTS’ backline stocks, currently led by All-Australian and Allies defender, Sydney local Renee Tomkins.

Having interest in AFL for a long as she can remember – her Dad being an AFL Umpire – Hetherington has also happily taken some of the newer GIANTS under her wing, guiding the relatively inexperienced, Pippa Smyth in learning the nuances of Australian Rules.

Hetherington and Smyth found themselves as housemates in late 2017, with both having to move to Sydney to play, and have since developed a close bond around the learning and teaching of the game.

“That was a complete coincidence,” explains Hetherington when asked on how their differing experiences were paired together.

“I just got to a point where I wanted to live with someone else, from the team preferably, and Pip just happened to ask if anyone was looking for a housemate, so I said, ‘Yep, me!’ and it has just worked out.

“It’s actually great because we’re so different. The age, she lives on the beach, I live in the suburbs, she’s really new to footy and I’ve obviously played for quite a while, so our conversations are really refreshing. She just really wants to learn a lot and I love talking about footy.”

Like Privitelli, Hetherington also notes the incredible family-like culture the GIANTS have been able to build at the club.

“I think it helped knowing that there were a lot of Victorians who had made the move [last year] and have chosen to stay as well. That was a big thing.

“I remember during the trade period thinking, ‘I wonder if they’re all just going to come home’, and I think only one did. So, I knew there must have been a pretty good vibe up here.”

Hetherington, Eva and Privitelli have joined the GIANTS with Maddie Boyd and Pepa Randall who have both travelled north to the GIANTS from the Melbourne Demons, and interstate rookie, 18-year-old Tait Mackrill.

You can see the GWS GIANTS play Carlton for FREE in their first home match of the 2018 AFLW season on February 9 at Drummoyne Oval at 7.05pm. Be sure to get there early – gates open at 5.30pm!