Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants celebrates a goal during the qualifying final against the Crows.
Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants celebrates a goal during the qualifying final against the Crows. Michael Willson/AFL Media

Harry in the company of Aussie rules legends

NOT every young player gets to share the company of Aussie rules royalty growing up.

But well before he embarked on his own career at the top level with the GWS Giants, Harrison Himmelberg didn't have to look far for inspiration.

The 21-year-old hails from Daniher country in the Riverina area of New South Wales. In fact, he was almost considered part of the legendary family.

Born and bred in Wagga, Himmelberg primarily represented the Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes footy club.

But whenever he got the chance he would head to Ungarie, where Terry, Neale, Anthony and Chris Daniher - the only four brothers to have played in the same VFL-AFL game - all cut their teeth, and Chris was back coaching juniors.

"I used to go out when we had a bye or when the Ungarie boys played on a different day," recalled Himmelberg, who became good mates with Chris' son Harvey and his nephew Jock Cornell.

"I read up on the Danihers ... I actually read their book just before I'd gone out there.

"I was probably a little bit starstruck at the start, but then got to know their family really well. I'm still mates with Harvey and Jock."

Terry Daniher, the 313-game, two-time Essendon premiership captain, was also an influence.


CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05:  Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants celebrates with team mates after kicking a goal during the round 20 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Melbourne Demons at UNSW Canberra Oval on August 5, 2017 in Canberra, Australia.  (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Harrison Himmelberg of the Giants celebrates with teammates after kicking a goal. Matt King

"He came home a few times, out to the farm (famously run by Daniher parents Jim and Edna)," Himmelberg said. "I went to a few family get-togethers and stuff out there. I got to meet a lot of the clan."

That clan includes big Joe Daniher, son of Anthony and now Essendon spearhead.

The Himmelberg family is now building its own name.

Getting his athleticism from his dad Kevin, a one-time American college basketballer, "Harry" Himmelberg would turn out to be a star himself.

Chosen to be part of the GWS Giants academy, he moved to Canberra at 17 to further his development with the NSW/ACT Rams in the elite TAC Cup under-18 competition.

Taken at pick 15 in the 2015 national draft by the Giants, he debuted in round 17 last season in Brisbane, where his folks and younger sister are now living. His brother Elliot was drafted by the Adelaide Crows last year.


Greater Western Sydney Giants AFL player Harrison Himmelberg takes part in a training session in Sydney, Monday, September 11, 2017. The Giants will host the West Coast Eagles in the first semi-final on Saturday, September 16. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING
Giants player Harrison Himmelberg takes part in a training session in Sydney. PAUL MILLER

Harrison played four senior games in 2016, and has added a further 10 in 2017, overcoming a broken finger mid-season to rejoin the team in round 20, and will be important when the Giants host West Coast in their cut-throat semi-final tonight at Spotless Stadium in Sydney.

Versatile, the 194cm Himmelberg can play forward or back. He may be used in attack tonight, possibly in a negating role to limit the influence of Eagles marking king Jeremy McGovern across half back.

He may also be needed to hit the scoreboard himself, with Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) sidelined.

"It's obviously very disappointing that Jezza's hurt his hamstring again," Himmelberg said.

"But the rest of the boys in the forward line will have to step up and we're pretty confident in our depth and the fact that we can fill the gap that he leaves."

The Giants have won their past two clashes with the Eagles, but Himmelberg won't be underestimating them after their extra-time win over Port Adelaide.

"West Coast are a really good team," he said.

"They were able to be harder for longer (against the Power). We'll go into the game to try and counteract that ... match the ferocity that they will bring."