Mundy’s long journey to Dockers’ captaincy

b88115479z.1_20160327122627_000_gkfgh9th.3_1-1bfeolpDavid Mundy’s journey from shy, reluctant leader to Fremantle Dockers captain has, he says, been a long work in progress.

But the teachings of football legend Gary Ablett Sr, NBA megastar Kobe Bryant and WA businessman Ernie Zentner have helped mould Mundy into a leader ready to make his mark in the wake of Matthew Pavlich’s long reign at the Dockers.

Mundy, 30, revealed this week how childhood heroes, adult mentors and conversations with key Dockers leaders Ross Lyon, Chris Bond and Steve Rosich helped him into his new role.

“If I’m not sure or whatever I can really sit on the fence sometimes,” Mundy said before tomorrow’s season-opener against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

“But I was really instructed and asked to believe in myself and in my opinion and if I want something or want to ask something or if I feel like something’s not right, really be emphatic about my stance on it,” he told The Weekend West.

“That’s been something I’ve tried to remember and keep at the forefront of my mind when addressing the players.”

From Seymour in rural Victoria, Mundy said he was gradually shaped by watching how Ablett and Bryant approach their roles on and off the field. Each had a telling effect on him.

“Some of the things Kobe says through Twitter and his different social media outlets…he’s obviously a really driven person,” he said.

“He’s had a lot of success in his earlier years and although he’s retiring now, he was still battling away and trying to drag his team across the line to get another championship.

“Just the way he is willing to sacrifice and give up anything to succeed has been something that I’ve learnt through that.

“To continually change, evolve and keep that passion to succeed and drive himself is not something that comes easily.”

Mundy says his respect for Ablett is growing more and more as he realised what type of player he was.

“He was a very talented individual but was ruthless in how he went about it,” he said.

“If anyone was in his way, he just ran through them and tried to hurt them.”

Mundy said his leadership flourished through his family life with wife Sally and sons Finn, two, and Hudson, one.

“If the team’s going through a hard trot, it’s not hard to go home and see first-hand what I’m doing it all for,” he said.

He said Mr Zentner, who runs a shipping company out of Christmas and Cocos islands, had become a close family friend since he came to Fremantle and helped him learn life lessons.

“He’s a very successful, self-made businessman and a really humble and friendly family man,” he said.

“At work, he obviously works really hard to develop his business and keep his contracts. Then at home, he really checks out and is into family time. He doesn’t let one affect the other.”

After an away loss to Port Adelaide in 2009, with Fremantle near a bottom side, Mundy said he felt at age 23 that leadership was being forced on him before he was ready for it.

But despite being “quite introverted” in his early Docker days, he did not shirk his responsibility to grow at a delicate time for the club. Although he never aspired to the captaincy, his teammates decided this season was his time.

Mundy said winning the vote was humbling and he was glad his teammates had enough faith in him to lead them.

Mundy says he has benefited from living by Fremantle’s player values and club-sourced leadership courses.

He said Pavlich was a “pillar of strength” when the embattled Dockers needed it most and he would look to him as a “sounding board” while following his own leadership beliefs.

“It’s just going to help the whole process having him around,” he said, adding that former Fremantle captain Peter Bell had also been a leadership role model.

“He’s been a really good support mechanism for me and has been really encouraging. But Matthew and I are different people with different personalities and we do things our own way. I won’t be a Matthew Pavlich clone.”

While Mundy said he had watched on almost in awe as Nat Fyfe grew from a skinny kid from the country who barely filled his shorts into a Brownlow Medallist, he also joked his teammate had afforded him some welcome midfield relief.

“He’s exponentially a better leader than he was three and four years ago,” he said. “He drives himself to improve and to get the best out of himself and now he’s driving the group as well. Now he’s getting the tags, which makes it even nicer for me.”

Mundy, who is doing a marine science degree at Murdoch University, said he “shuddered to think” where his life might be without football.

He denied he felt any extra pressure at taking over Fremantle’s captaincy at a time when most critics still see the club at the pointy end of premiership opportunity. It is clear he sees positivity in almost every adversity and that application would continue tomorrow against the Bulldogs.

“I’m looking forward to the challenges of the year to come,” he said.

“It will be nice to get a win in my first game as captain, but more importantly for our first game of the season it would be nice to get off to a good start. We’ll just crack in and have a go … it’s going to be a massive, massive challenge but I think we’re up for it and ready for it.”