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Shaw backs 'on the edge' teammates

By Adam Curley - AFL Media  August 8, 2017 5:04 PM

Presser: Heath Shaw Heath Shaw fronts the media ahead of Round 21.

GIANTS defender Heath Shaw has joined coach Leon Cameron in backing the aggressive playing style of stars Toby Greene and Shane Mumford.

Mumford will miss this Friday night's crucial clash with the Western Bulldogs after being suspended for one game for rough conduct in last week's win over Melbourne, while Greene will return for the match at Etihad Stadium, after serving his second two-game ban this season. 

Cameron has openly supported both players this year – along with Shaw himself – for the way they 'play on the edge', and has come under criticism at times for not being firmer with the discipline of his players, Greene in particular. 

Shaw said on Tuesday that like Cameron, he doesn't want his teammates crossing the line and missing games of footy, but he also doesn't want Greene and Mumford to alter too much about their playing style. 

"There's a certain ruthless and aggressive part of football that you need to be successful, but not everyone plays on the edge like they do," he said. 

"That's what keeps them in the game and focused, and gets them to play at the level that they do.

"Not everyone goes out there and has to belt people and rough people up, or get aggressive at the ball and the man to play well, but some people do and that’s how they become really, really good players. 

"We're not going to take that away from two of our most important players and curb what has made them who they are." 

Greene could be joined in the side by fellow forward Jonathon Patton against the premiers, after he was a late withdrawal from last week's win over Melbourne with hamstring tightness. 

Shaw said the inclusion of Greene and Patton, who were instrumental with three goals each in the GIANTS' two-point win over the Dogs in round six, was significant for the visitors. 

"We've had more players going out than coming in for most of this year, so to get quality players like Toby and Jonny coming in this week is a bonus," he said. 

"We've had a few guys being drip-fed into the team over the last month and we're starting to get back towards our best 22."

The GIANTS backline turned in one of its most complete performances of the season in keeping the Demons to just 12 scoring shots from 55 inside 50s, but Shaw said the versatile Bulldogs posed a different threat, especially with their star Marcus Bontempelli in rare touch. 

The 21-year-old has spent more time inside the Dogs' attacking zone in recent weeks, and while his conversion (6.8 from his last four games) has let him down, it's no coincidence that Bontempelli's move forward has helped his team win four straight.

"We've got a couple of guys who can roll through him, our mid-size guys and even our talls can play on him because he's pretty big," Shaw said.

"Hopefully I don't have to play on him but at some point we'll cross paths, and that’s something you have to talk about with your midfielders and adjust.

"Like it was last week, I hope the ball is up the other end instead of down my end."

The GIANTS take on the Western Bulldogs on Friday night at 7:50pm at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne.