Former Collingwood premiership-winning captain Nick Maxwell has lauded the growth of his former Pies backline colleague Heath Shaw, after being reunited with him at emerging AFL power Greater Western Sydney.
The two played together at Collingwood for nine seasons between 2005 and 2013 and were part of the 2010 flag-wnning side.
Shaw then headed to GWS, where he has played the last three years and and Maxwell retired following the 2014 season.
Half-back Shaw has gone from strength to strength at the Giants, earning back-to-back All Australian honours and plenty of plaudits for being director of the mainly youthful GWS backline.
They were reunited late last year when Maxwell joined the Giants on a part-time time basis to help with their leadership group, of which 30-year-old Shaw is vice-captain
Maxwell is assisting Giants backline coach Nick Walsh and has watched Shaw flourish in his massively influential role at the club, which will play Western Bulldogs in a preliminary final on Saturday .
“I’ve seen Shawy grow really well,” Maxwell told AAP.
“I played a lot of footy with him, but having been away from him a couple of years (I’ve been) watching externally.
“But now being inside seeing his growth and how much he understands his role and how important it is and he understands that he’s got to be doing that for us to be at our best.
“It’s been good to see his improvement. As a footballer, you hit your peak when you get to those mid-to-late 20s, that was where he came in (to GWS).
“I think (Giants head coach) Leon Cameron has been great for him.”
Maxwell agreed Shaw’s organisational role, in which he barks instructions to his less experienced defensive colleagues about where to go, was akin to having a coach out on the field.
“And that’s what we expect of him.,” Maxwell said.
“Part of his role is not just about beating his man and getting the ball.
“It’s about setting up, not just in the backline, but also seeing what’s happening in front of him and making sure that he’s educating the midfield and the forwards about what’s happening.”