GWS Giants AFL star Shane Mumford wants to tick off another achievement on his club’s list by finally claiming the scalp of West Coast, as he looks forward to his duel with ruck rival Nic Naitanui.
Freakish athlete Naitanui returned to action last week after missing six games following surgery and will resume his rivalry on Saturday with Giants strongman Mumford at Spotless Stadium, in a battle between two top-four aspirants.
“It’s going to be a great battle and one I always look forward to,” Mumford said on Friday.
“I love playing on the bigger, stronger ruckmen, and he obviously brings different attributes to what I do, so it’s a challenge and I don’t shy away from that.”
West Coast have won their four previous games against GWS by a whopping average of almost 95 points, with the Giants’ narrowest loss being by 81 and the losing margin twice exceeding 100.
The Eagles are only one of three teams the Giants are yet to beat, the others being Collingwood and North Melbourne, who they play in the final round.
Already this season, GWS have notched maiden wins over Richmond, Fremantle and Geelong, and have scored their first victories in SA and WA.
“I guess each little thing is another step forward for the club,” Mumford said.
“To be able to say that we’ve beaten every other team in the competition is something we want to be able to say at some point pretty soon.”
Eagles’ assistant coach Dean Cox said while his team drew confidence from their excellent record against GWS, they recognised how good a side the Giants had become this season.
“They move the ball quick, they take the game on and that’s something we’re going to have to be really aware of is to be able to slow them down as often as possible,” Cox said.
The clash with GWS signals the start of a tough run home for the Eagles who, after Saturday, play two more top-four contenders in Hawthorn at home and Adelaide away.
“Our destiny is in our own hands and we’ve got to beat these sides if we want to be successful in September,” Cox said.
GWS have an 8-1 home record this season across their Sydney and Canberra bases.
The Eagles have lost five out of eight outside WA, with their only wins interstate coming against sides outside the eight.
“We want to make sure that we can try and play our best footy anywhere and against really quality opposition,” Cox said.