MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Madison Brazendale of the Giants in action during the 2022 S7 AFLW Round 01 match between the Western Bulldogs and the GWS Giants at Ikon Park on August 28, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Giants ready to unleash Brazen(dale) run on Manuka

The Giants have talked about a new, expansive game plan, and Manuka Oval will be the perfect location for that this afternoon.

Under new coach Cam Bernasconi, the GWS Giants have talked about a new, expansive and exciting game plan for Season Seven, as they look to make the AFLW finals for the first time since 2020.

Bernasconi, a Canberra local, is looking forward to coaching in his hometown this afternoon, alongside a number of his charges, who are back playing where they played junior football.

Bernasconi explained last week that despite the loss to the Bulldogs, he was impressed with how his team implemented the strategy.

"I think there were some really positive takeaways from the game last week," Bernasconi said.

"Obviously we didn't get the result which is disappointing, but having a new game plan, new coaching personnel, it's going to take some time.

"The key takeaway we got out of that was, you know, we're starting to change the way we played and, statistically, straightaway, we're seeing that and that's what happened - we're going to move the ball faster."

Bernasconi is excited to play on Manuka Oval, one of the biggest grounds in Australia, and one where there will be plenty of space to show off the new game plan later today.

"It's the width and length is big where we saw the game last weekend with Geelong and Richmond playing in Geelong - it's really long ground. And, you know, there weren't high scores, but it's really a great contest and a great battle. Sometimes you can get consumed by score," he said.

"So the way we look at it is there's a lot more space for us to move the footy. So it's something that hopefully we can embrace this week and showcase it to the Lions.

"We're really excited that you get to play at Manuka, where there is a bit more space for us to continue to have a crack at having a game plan.

"There's going to be times we get it wrong like we did last weekend. There's going to be times where we get it right and that's just really exciting.

"That's what we're communicating in the group at the moment is that it's all about growth - each time we play, just getting a little bit better and I'm really confident this weekend will continue to improve."

One of the players who stepped up last week, in her first game of AFLW football was Madi Brazendale. Brazendale, who was drafted at Pick 75 by the Giants in the draft earlier this year, showed off her speed and skill in her first appearance in the competition.

The 19 year old had 11 disposals and four tackles, and looked at home with the intensity of the game. Her coach and her teammates were highly impressed by the debutant's performance.

"Madi had an unbelievable debut," Bernasconi said.

"The players actually celebrated her with our Fearless Award this week. So she, on her first game at that level, I thought she was fantastic and you can just see that she's he's going to be a running machine.

"She not only covers the ground really well but she's got you know elite speed as well. So she is certainly a player that will be rubbing her hands to get to play at Manuka and during all that space come Sunday."

Brazendale's on-field debut was just another step, as Bernasconi explained. The youngster has thrived since moving up from Tasmania after being drafted, and has settled into the Giants quickly.

"Moving up to big scary Sydney from Tassie as well. It's a big move off field. And she's just adapted so well and it's a credit to her but also to the girls in the program have really embraced our young players that have moved to move interstate.

"It just comes back to - if you're comfortable and enjoying off the field it relates to on-field performance. So we're rapt with how Madi's going and looking forward to see have another big game on Sunday."

As for the young star herself, Brazendale spoke to Edge of the Crowd in the moments after her debut, still soaking up the milestone.

"I was disappointed to lose but it was good to get my first game done," Brazendale said.

"It was such a surreal moment. It almost didn't feel real. It was so exciting, and also really nerve-wracking. But it was great.

"I'm definitely happy with my first game. Still a lot of learning, but ready to move forward from here and keep learning and put that into my game.

Brazendale was reflective on her and the team's performance against the Bulldogs, where they challenged, but ultimately came up short.

"It's a big change to how the Giants normally play. But when it's executed right, it works and it's definitely going to help push the Giants forward and put us off against better teams and give us a real chance.

"A fast game style really suits me as I use my speed. So for me, it really helps because I like to move the ball fast so it works well with my game."

The Giants will go in as underdogs today against the Lions, who are one of the premiership favourites in this AFLW season - but if there was a ground, and a game plan, for shock and awe, the Giants might have the perfect storm down in Canberra this afternoon.