Greater Western Sydney vice-captain Heath Shaw has proclaimed the Giants’ sprightly young midfield is superior to that of his Collingwood team which won the 2010 premiership.
As one of the oldest players at fourth-placed GWS, 29-year-old Shaw has witnessed the astonishing progress of the club’s rising stars and says the midfield in particular has exceeded his expectations.
And the defender thinks the onballers have it over title-winning Magpies stars such as Dane Swan and Scott Pendlebury on speed alone.
“The midfield that I had at Collingwood was very similar,” he said.
“This one’s probably a little bit better, so hopefully building over the next few years we can get to that stage.
“‘Swanny’ wasn’t that quick, ‘Pendles’ wasn’t that quick and we had Shane O’Bree floating through the midfield.
“There were a lot of old, slow guys running though the Collingwood midfield, so we had to adjust our game around that.
“But these guys are very explosive, and you’ve seen in the first six rounds the way that when they get the ball they want to go.”
As Shaw readies for his 200th AFL match against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, he admitted he expected to finish his career with his former club, before parting ways in 2013.
“To be honest I never thought I’d leave Collingwood,” he said.
“If I hadn’t have had some off-field indiscretions I probably would have played 200 for Collingwood.
“But I’m pretty happy just to get to that milestone and be amongst the pretty young group here.”
Most of the Shaw clan will be at Etihad Stadium to witness the achievement, including father Ray, a former Collingwood captain.
Coach Leon Cameron described the achievement as “just enormous”, and praised the way Shaw had embraced the second part of his AFL career with the Giants.
“Heath probably hit a bit of a flat spot at the back end of his career at Collingwood,” Cameron said.
“There’s no doubt he’s enjoying the life of Sydney and the renewed zest of playing for a young side that push and probe him along, because he’s one of the grandfathers of the team.
“That’s driving him.”