Greater Western Sydney’s changing of the leadership guard shows rivals that birth certificates will mean nothing when facing the AFL’s so-called young boys.
That’s the opinion of retained vice-captain Heath Shaw.
Big-money recruit Tom Scully and key ruckman Shane Mumford were dropped from the Giants’ leadership group to make way for emerging stars Stephen Coniglio, 22, Dylan Shiel, 23, Devon Smith, 22, and Matt Buntine, 22.
Coach Leon Cameron put Scully and Mumford’s omissions down to part of the fledgling club’s natural evolution.
And defender Shaw agreed it was necessary for younger players to be elevated to key roles so the rest of the competition could see that age is just a number on a footy field.
“That tag is always going to be hung on for the first couple of years – we’re past that now,” Shaw told AAP.
“It’s a very young club, but after one or two years the birth certificates go out the window and you just think they’re footballers.
“That’s what we want to be seen as now.
“We don’t want to be seen as a young team or an old team or a talented team.
“We want to be seen as a team that’s hard to play against and hard to beat.”
At 30, Shaw is nearly the oldest of the lot and one of the club’s most senior figures.
Last year’s best and fairest winner admitted his expectations have been far exceeded since arriving from Collingwood before the 2014 season.
Last campaign was the Giants’ most successful.
They sat fourth after the first eight rounds, and looked well-placed to continue the dream run only for injuries to cruel hopes of a maiden finals berth.
Shaw sees it as well within reach in 2016.
“I had reasonably low expectations when I first got here in terms of what we could achieve on the field, and look at where we are now in 24 months,” he said.
“The confidence in the group and the expectation has risen dramatically.”