Finals resolve behind small Giant’s big impact
Told to forget about his dreams by the coaches who wrote him off as too small, Brent Daniels has become the Giant in his own fairytale.
GWS teammates lauded the second smallest player in the AFL the 'king of Swan Hill', after the 20-year-old kid from country Victoria kicked the Giants into their third preliminary final in four seasons.
Standing at just 170cm and in only his second season in the big time, Daniels sprinted away from the desperate Brisbane Lions at the Gabba and nailed a tricky shot at goal on the run with just two minutes left on the clock.
In a euphoric dressing room after play, teammate Zac Williams dubbed Daniels "D'Angelo Russell", a reference to the American NBA star who says he was born with "ice in his veins."
All the attention this year has centred on the GWS talls Jeremy Cameron, Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Finlayson, but the smallest Giant delivered when it mattered most.
Daniels always imagined being the star who kicks the winning goal in a final, but never knew if it would be his destiny.
"I suppose every one dreams of it, kicking the goal to win the game in a final. I know a lot of the boys in there would probably dream of it as well," he said.
"I had a pretty quiet night up until that last kick. I saw Jez (Cameron) and Harris Andrews (Lions) one-on-one and sort of rolled the dice skinny and it fell into my lap. I know I had my defender for speed.
"Once I picked it up and I felt him behind me, I felt I was moving away and I think I'm pretty good at summing those things up.
"It was a big contest game but I felt fresh to run away and kick it through.
"It was a special feeling. It's something you always dream of. But it doesn't mean much if we don't win next week."
Daniels was dropped by the Giants for last year's finals, but it only strengthened the resolve of the pint-sized small forward to make up for it in 2019.
He is described by GWS coaches as an honest, unassuming boy from the bush who has paid his dues in the team like an old school footballer.
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Jeremy Cameron, as another country boy in the GWS forward line, has been his mentor and confidante.
Daniels hasn't missed a match all year and his legs are still pumping.
"I'm pretty fresh at the moment. I had a full pre-season so I didn't miss a session," he said.
"I obviously missed out on the finals series which was disappointing and I probably took that feeling into pre-season a little bit and wanted to be a part of things.
"I knew we were going to be successful. That's something that's driven me this year to keep a spot in the team. I think we can go all the way if we play our best footy."