Harry Himmelberg poses for a photo after re-signing with Greater Western Sydney on August 3, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

A SERIES of heart-to-heart meetings during which the Giants sold their vision played a pivotal role in Harry Himmelberg's call to commit to Greater Western Sydney and sign a monster six-year deal.

Speculation was rife all season around Himmelberg, who was one of this year's top free agents, that he would leave the club he has been attached to since his early teens.

The Giants' rivals and opponents in Saturday evening's mammoth Sydney Derby, the Swans, were said to be keen on bringing Himmelberg across the bridge, but the 27-year-old says it never looked likely that he would leave for another club.

"To be honest, not really. My manager (David Trotter) did all the work for me in the background, he'd give me an update every week or so and I know it sounds cliché but I just wanted to focus on playing footy," Himmelberg said.

"It's a mixture of relief and excitement. It was always going to head down this path for me. I knew this team was moving in the right direction and the last seven or eight weeks is testament to that."

While Himmelberg is adamant it never got to a point where leaving the Giants seemed the probable scenario, he was wined and dined by GWS general manager of football Jason McCartney and captain Toby Greene to put any concerns he might have had to rest.


"That was a while ago now but it was good to have a chat through where the club is heading," he said.

"I had a meeting with Adam (Kingsley, coach) a couple of weeks ago as well and he also reassured me about where the club is heading and you can really see the vision to be honest.

"We're going to challenge in the years to come."

The financials are always a key to any deal but it's understood the offer from GWS was equal to that of any other on the table.

Harry Himmelberg and Toby Greene at Greater Western Sydney training on August 3, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

Sentiment was therefore a key factor for the New South Wales product.

"It was really important. I came through the Giants Academy as a 14-year-old from Wagga. I wouldn't be in the system if it wasn't for the academy giving me a chance. It's good to be able to repay that faith."

Only Jeremy Cameron and Greene have kicked more goals for GWS than Himmelberg but it's his quality in defence, which became evident last season under interim coach Mark McVeigh, that has boosted his value.

His new coach is adamant that's where Himmelberg's best footy is played.

"There's no coincidence that from the moment he's gone back, defensively we've been really strong. I see him predominantly as a back but he has that knack of being able to go forward," Kingsley said.

"For him to commit, to see where we're going and have faith in that and trust is a great feeling but there's work to do, we've got a long way to go before we're in finals."


Himmelberg's signature has added to a long list of positive news emanating out of the club. 

Dashing defender Lachie Ash and livewire forward Xavier O'Halloran have also signed new deals recently, the team is on a club-record seven-match winning streak and a membership record of 32,704 has been announced.

On Saturday evening, a near-capacity crowd of over 20,000 is expected at Giants Stadium, where midfielder Tom Green and key forward Jesse Hogan are expected to return.

"We'll tick that off with the physios a bit later but I feel like both got through training fine so I'd expect them both to be available," Kingsley said.

Gun wingman Finn Callaghan limped out of training, but the club is adamant he's just managing some bumps and bruises and will be fine to play.

Finn Callaghan in action during the R4 match between GWS and Essendon at Marvel Stadium on April 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Kingsley has also declared that 2020 All-Australian defender Nick Haynes will be promoted from the substitute role for his 200th game.

"Nick will be playing and we look forward to celebrating his 200th. He's been a wonderful servant of this football club. We'll celebrate him hopefully with a win," he said.

"I think you should celebrate a milestone game on the field rather than the sub, that's my view. We're expecting the same Nick Haynes game that we've seen 199 times."

The Giants coach hasn't shied away from his desire to lock down on the opposition's most damaging player more often than not and Callan Ward's job in quelling Marcus Bontempelli's influence after quarter-time was crucial to the win over the Western Bulldogs last week.

Errol Gulden has undoubtedly been Sydney's best player this season and Kingsley again admitted the Giants will put a lot of work into stopping him.


"He's a wonderful player so there's every chance that we will. We'll definitely have a plan for him, whether that's a lockdown or something else, we'll discuss that," he said.

"He is so flexible. We know that when he gets the ball it turns into something special for them so we've got to restrict that."

Lance Franklin won't be an issue for any opposition coach in the future after his sudden retirement on Monday, but that will mean a different challenge in the Swans' attacking 50.

"It is, in one way it makes them a little less predictable but I'd rather the lack of predictability than having him running around the front half," Kingsley said. 

"It's one of the all-time great footy careers and everyone has marvelled at what he's been able to do. He'll be missed but very well remembered."