Rated the perfect fit for finals footy by his coach, feisty GWS Giants ruckman Shane Mumford will happily clean up former apprentice Sam Naismith and other old Sydney teammates in Saturday’s AFL qualifying final.
Mumford is preparing to play his 50th game for the Giants and his 150th overall.
“He’s the perfect mould for finals footy, because he likes contact, he likes to play with aggression,” Giants’ coach Leon Cameron said of Mumford on Wednesday.
“There’s no doubt there’s going to be probably 80 to 100 stoppages on the weekend, which he’ll be involved in a number of them, with (backup ruckman) Rory (Lobb).
“He’s experienced now because he’s been there and done that with the Swans, so it’s good for our young group to have a big presence in the ruck, which we need come these sort of finals games.”
Mumford’s nine-season AFL journey includes 21 games in two years for Geelong and 79 over four campaigns for Sydney, where he won a premiership in 2012.
“It’s a bit weird playing against your old team, but I’ve done it enough times that it doesn’t affect me too much,” Mumford said.
“I go out there with that same intent and same attack on the ball and if I can clean up a few blokes early, I’ll be quite happy with it.”
Asked if that included the increasingly influential Naismith, who is nine centimetres taller, Mumford said “if he gets in my way I’ll try and get him.”
Mumford’s final year at Sydney was Naismith’s first and Saturday’s match will be the first time they have clashed in an AFL game.
“I actually spent a fair bit of time training with him before I left the Swans,” Mumford said of Naismith.
“I know him quite well and he’s well improved this year, so it’s going to be a big challenge for me.”
Naismith played just one game in his first three years at Sydney, but capitalised on an injury to frontline ruckman Kurt Tippett, playing the last eight matches.
“Naismith got his chance and has really relished that,” Mumford said.
“He’s stepped up and I think he’ll probably play a fair chunk of the role in the ruck this week.”
Mumford said the many Giants finals rookies were excited but he expected nerves might kick in later in the week.
Emerging Giants midfielder Jack Steele, who was pushing for senior selection after a 41-possession game in a NEAFL finals match last weekend, is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a foot injury on Tuesday.