Matilda McDonell and Sam Poolman celebrate while Julie Fitzgerald looks on.

Matilda McDonell and Sam Poolman celebrate while Julie Fitzgerald looks on. Image: Dani Brown

Kim Green was the inaugural captain of the Giants. While she was never a premiership captain, she thinks this year the team is primed for success.

Kim Green was captain of the Giants Netball, and one of the influential voices in their early years. She looks back at her time, and looks at the Giants of today ahead of the major semi final against NSW Swifts today.

While Green has not played for the Giants in a number of years, the foundational captain on the club still sees plenty of parallels between the first two years of the club, and the modern day iteration. She told The Inner Sanctum what she sees happening, and how the Giants have learned and prepared for the upcoming finals.

In 2017, Kim Green was captain of the Giants, and heading into finals, she was sidelined with an ACL injury, but was still heavily involved in the team.

In 2021, Kiera Austin was slated to be the star goal attack for the Giants, but heading into finals, she is sidelined with an ACL injury of her own. Despite the physical limitations, Austin is in the hub with the team, and will no doubt play a part this weekend.

In 2018, the Giants were minor premiers, and played the West Coast Fever in the final round of the season, with a place in the major semi final and a second chance on the line.

Last week, the Giants sealed the minor premiership with a win over the West Coast Fever, guaranteeing them a berth in today’s major semi final, and a second chance.

Green sees this season’s Giants team as a different beast to previous years, and knows that coach Julie Fitzgerald will be there to guide them, and to help them get it done. One of the ways in which Fitzgerald will help, is that she has overseen a turnaround this season, after the disappointment of last year.

“It’s been documented that it was pretty tumultuous last year, within the hub for the team, and balancing emotions was probably the hardest part,” Green explained. “Balancing player expectations was another one, and with the new rules thrown in at the second, the players were really in a position where they didn’t feel that security around them.”

“When things get thrown up in the air, and you’re scrambling, you’ve got to have a good culture and good people who are going to be able to withstand all the shifts and changes,” she explained.

“Julie has worked with quite a few specialists in this area over the offseason, to make sure the players were in really good nick if it was to happen again.”

Julie Fitzgerald has ensured the Giants had a strong culture for Season 2021. Image: Dani Brown

And Green thinks that Fitzgerald’s offseason investment has paid off. Despite the fact that the Giants have stayed in five states this season, and been on the road for almost eight weeks, the team has thrived.

“Speaking to Maddie Hay, and I speak to Maddie quite a bit, and Jo [Harten], I said ‘just when you felt last year was hard, throw 2021 on you guys’, but look how they’ve been able to handle it,” the former captain said. “I know there were some really hard conversations that were had at the end of last year, that really shocked some people, from different voices within the team, so I think for them, they’ve done such a great job.”

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It has showed, as that culture has blossomed, despite the adversity, and so have the players. Sophie Dwyer, Maddie Hay and Amy Parmenter have all grown in leaps and bounds this season. Green attributes it to more than just improved play, though, and thinks that the culture has really set in.

“You can see they’re so happy, the players on the bench are so happy for the players on the court, and then the next one comes on, and you can see whoever has been pulled off is happy,” she explained.

Matilda McDonell, Julie Fitzgerald and Matisse Letherbarrow (L-R) cheer the Giants on from the sidelines. Image: Dani Brown

The Giants have come close to a premiership on a few occasions in their brief history as a fledgling club. In 2017, the Giants lost to the Sunshine Coast Lightning in the grand final, and in 2018, they were bundled out of the finals with consecutive losses.

The football team came close a year later, but lost to Richmond on the biggest AFL stage in 2019.

Green knows that a premiership will mean a lot to the whole club, a club that shares infrastructure, headquarters, a name and a culture.

“It’s bigger than netball for us, the Giants are a bigger family, and the AFL part of the family, their support is incredible,” the former midcourter explained. “All our facilities are over there… but mainly the staff reside over in the Giants section, and they’re often split over the two clubs roles, so there is a really true connection.”

“When I got back into the club, the [AFL] boys will come and sit down and have coffee with you, and its just a really cool place to be a part of.

“It wouldn’t just be winning for netball, it would be winning for the whole family of the Giants,” Green explained.

And the first hurdle in the way of the netball team? Cross-town rivals the NSW Swifts. In 2019, the Swifts won the premiership with a grand final performance that has left an imprint on the whole competition.

“The Swifts are an incredible team, and they’ve shown in the last few weeks in particular, that they’re willing to rotate anyone on and off court,” the former Giant explained. “It will be a real test to see how strong these players are, and how much they’re willing to put ego aside to make sure the team is in the best position, and I think the Swifts are able to do that.”

“They’ve shown, [in 2019] in the final, with their backs against the wall, they know exactly what to do, and that was a pretty scary sight, to see and know that’s something they could pull out again,” Green said.

When asked who she expected to win this weekend, the former Giant went with her heart.

“I think it’s going to be a tough game, and I think it’s only going to be by two.

“I think the Giants are going to be down the whole game, and be able to come back and win the game,” Green said.

Whether she’s right about the result or not, Green is certain that the Giants are well prepared for finals, and are going to come through as a stronger team.

The Giants take on the NSW Swifts at 1:00pm in the Major semi final of the 2021 Suncorp Super Netball.

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