Devon Smith in action for the Bombers. Pic: Getty Images
Devon Smith in action for the Bombers. Pic: Getty Images

Was trading Smith a Giant mistake?

GWS didn't rate Devon Smith highly enough to play him in last year's finals and now the embattled club's blind loyalty in Steve Johnson last September is coming back to bite them.

Smith's bitter divorce from the Giants, sparked by his anger at being out of favour, led him straight to Essendon where his stunning stats in 2018 have him on track to set a new mark as the AFL's all-time pressure player.

This Saturday night the 25-year-old returns to take on his former club at Spotless Stadium where he has a chance to ram home even more emphatically his point that the Giants should have selected him ahead of ageing warrior Johnson for last year's preliminary final.

Smith is the No. 1 pressure player in the competition, averaging 73.5 pressure points to place him as the best in the comp and, as it stands, the No.1 in the game's history.

The fighting Bombers midfielder is also ranked No.2 in the league for most tackles with an average of 8.3, and he is above average with 20 disposals, 13 uncontested possessions, 298 metres gained per game.

 

Devon Smith has been a hit at Essendon. Pic: Michael Klein
Devon Smith has been a hit at Essendon. Pic: Michael Klein

In contrast, slumping GWS are ranked fourth-last in the competition for applied pressure.

AFL great Dermott Brereton said he couldn't comment on whether the Giants could have done more to keep Smith, but concedes GWS probably misused one of the season's brightest talents.

"Everybody knew he was a seriously talented player. I probably thought he should have spent a bit more time in the midfield. I think he's a very good midfield player, not only a clever small forward," Brereton said.

"I think he's been a real good find for Essendon. I don't know and I didn't read too much into the contract negotiations by the Giants or Devon's party so I don't know what happened there."

Smith has admitted publicly that his banishing from all three of the Giants' finals matches last season was the final nail in the coffin in his decision to demand a trade.

Smith decided to leave the Giants after being overlooked late last season. Pic: Getty Images
Smith decided to leave the Giants after being overlooked late last season. Pic: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Johnson, the man the Giants were effectively picking in his place, is on the other side of Sydney Harbour now coaching the Swans, a defection he had already agreed to before last year's finals.

However, in the Giants' defence, Johnson, a playoff specialist throughout his career, had kicked a bag in the second semi-final against West Coast and made himself difficult to drop for such a huge game, even if it wasn't a call made with the future in mind.

Essendon rolled the dice on Smith, trading away their No.11 draft pick in exchange for a small forward who had question marks over his knee and whether he could play in the midfield.

They've hit the jackpot though and Smith was again an important contributor in Essendon's massive win over Geelong last weekend.

The Bombers are just a game and a half away from drawing level with GWS who are reeling from a three-game losing streak.

The Giants are desperately hoping Josh Kelly (groin) and Phil Davis (concussion) will return from injury for what shapes as a must-win encounter.



Bay couple jailed over ‘inhumane’ Esky death

premium_icon Bay couple jailed over ‘inhumane’ Esky death

The three men who subjected slain Gold Coast drug dealer Shaun Barker to brutal...

Hero who saved Gympie toddler from burning inferno

premium_icon Hero who saved Gympie toddler from burning inferno

Man driving past burning house runs into inferno to save a toddler

How 6 champions came from rural Gympie town

premium_icon How 6 champions came from rural Gympie town

‘If we can get an extended season, imagine the results these children could...