What is the GIANTS Academy?
In partnership with AFL NSW/ACT, the GIANTS Academy aims to identify, nurture and develop elite athletes in NSW and the ACT.
The Academy offers players individual skill development programs, to mould and better the AFL talent pathway within the club’s zone.
The Academy also supports and engages our local communities through health, harmony, education and employment initiatives to build a sustainable fan base, strengthen the brand of the GIANTS and grow the game of AFL throughout the region.
History of the GIANTS Academy
In late 2009, the AFL commission approved a set of list concession rules that gave the GIANTS zoned access to AFL players from NSW, ACT and the Northern Territory.
The Academy was born to provide an improved development pathway for young players within the vast region.
Officially launched at the University of Canberra on February 12, 2011, the Academy has helped nurture players and helped them to achieve their dreams of reaching an AFL list.
There are 10 Regional Centres of Excellence based in Broken Hill, Wentworth, Canberra, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Deniliquin, Griffith, Western Sydney, Orange/Bathurst and the South Coast.
GIANTS Academy Head Coach
In October 2014, former Sydney Swans and Carlton defender Jason Saddington was appointed Manager of the PM CAPITAL GIANTS Academy.
Saddington, who played 142 AFL games in a career spanning more than a decade, replaced former Essendon player Mark McVeigh who joined the GIANTS as a defensive coach.
Named coach of the 2014 NAB AFL Under-18 All Australian team, Saddington was in charge of the NSW/ACT Rams for three seasons before joining the GIANTS.
GIANTS Academy Graduates
The Academy has approximately 500 players in its program, aged between 13 and 19 years.
Wagga Wagga’s Harry Cunningham was the first player from the PM CAPITAL GIANTS Academy to be listed by an AFL club when he was picked up by the Swans with selection 93 in the 2012 NAB AFL Rookie Draft.
Narrandera’s Zac Williams became the first GIANTS Academy graduate to play for the GIANTS in 2013, earning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination in Round 19.
Temora’s Jake Barrett was selected by the GIANTS as a NSW Zone Selection in 2013 while Culcairn’s Jeremy Finlayson joined the GIANTS from the Academy at the end of 2014. Also joining the GIANTS at this time was Canberra’s Jack Steele who became the first Academy product from the ACT to join the club.
In the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, the GIANTS only selected Academy graduates with Jacob Hopper, Matthew Kennedy, Harrison Himmelberg and Matthew Flynn joining the club.
Under the new Academy bidding system, the GIANTS matched bids for each of the talented players in their region. The Gold Coast Suns bid on Leeton’s Jacob Hopper with pick 7, Richmond bid on Collingullie’s Matthew Kennedy at pick 13, Adelaide bid on Wagga Wagga’s Harrison Himmelberg at pick 16 and Melbourne bid on Narrandera’s Matthew Flynn at pick 41.
Other Academy graduates on AFL lists include Wagga Wagga’s Max King (Melbourne Demons), Canberra’s Logan Austin (Port Adelaide), Wagga Wagga’s Dougal Howard (Port Adelaide), Wagga Wagga’s Jock Cornell (Geelong) and Albury’s Nick Coughlan (St Kilda).