He’s one of the biggest units at the GWS Giants, but ruckman Shame Mumford is impressed by the growing physiques of his younger AFL teammates.
Greater Western Sydney have emerged as a genuine finals contender after making an 8-4 start to their fifth season.
Impressive home wins over fellow finals aspirants Geelong, Hawthorn, and most recently Sydney, have put the league on notice the Giants are pushing for a maiden finals appearance.
GWS were almost as well positioned last year at 7-4, but won only four of their last 11 games after Mumford suffered a season-ending injury.
In his third season at GWS, Mumford remains one of their most influential players but now has a more physically imposing group of colleagues.
“I think the biggest thing is just the size of the guys around me,” Mumford said.
“You look at all these young kids and they’ve turned into men.
“It was always going to take time but we’re really starting to reap the rewards of the pre-seasons now.”
Asked what was the most impressive thing about the 2016 Giants, Mumford said, “I guess the way we’re starting to really come together as a group.
“It’s such a great bunch of guys that really do love playing with each other and you can see that out there.”
Giants coach Leon Cameron said Mumford had been down on form the previous couple of weeks, but the big ruckman made his presence felt against former club Sydney last Sunday, producing a couple of his trademark crunching hits on Lance Franklin and Harry Cunningham.
The sixth-placed Giants are just one win outside the top four and appear to have a favourable run home.
They only play one side currently above them in ladder leader North Melbourne and that’s in the final round.
Their only other engagement against an opponent presently placed in a finals position is a home match against eighth-placed West Coast, who have won just once outside WA this season.
But Mumford, who was part of Sydney’s 2012 premiership-winning team, isn’t getting sucked into talk of an easy run home.
“You can’t think that way at all, on any given day any team can step up,” Mumford said.
Accordingly, Mumford expects GWS to be switched on for next Sunday’s match with last-placed Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
“We’ll be going down there with the same intent and the same actions we did (against Sydney last Sunday),” Mumford said.