Junior Clubs: Spotswood
Recruited from: Spotswood/Western U18/Western Bulldogs
Brownlow Votes: 61
Community Ambassador: Emu Plains/Glenmore Park Lions
After joining the club as an uncontracted player from the Western Bulldogs, Callan Ward became one of the inaugural co-captains of the GIANTS in 2012. Ward is a hard-running midfielder from Spotswood in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. His grandfather, Bill Gunn, played for South Melbourne from 1952 to 1959 and captained the team in 1955. Ward was drafted to the Bulldogs with pick 19 in the 2007 NAB AFL Draft. Ward won the inaugural Kevin Sheedy Medal for the GIANTS’ Best and Fairest in 2012.
The co-captain had another consistent season last year, but failed to finish in the top three of the best and fairest for the first time in the GIANTS' five seasons in the League. Ward set the standard for his teammates with his ferocious attack on the ball and the opposition, was ranked second at GWS for contested possessions and clearances and third for tackles. The 26-year-old polled 12 Brownlow votes after averaging 23.3 touches in 24 appearances and was a huge loss when he was knocked out early in the preliminary final loss to the Western Bulldogs. Ward is the driving force of the GIANTS' midfield and an outstanding leader.
Another stellar season from the co-captain saw him finish third in the best and fairest behind Heath Shaw and Adam Treloar, meaning he has finished in the top three in all four of the GIANTS' seasons in the AFL. The hard nut is an inspirational leader and led his side in contested possessions, no surprise given his attack on the footy and the opposition. Has played 20-plus games in all four of his seasons at the GIANTS and averaged more than 23 possessions a game. Polled 19 votes in last year's Brownlow Medal and was unlucky to miss out on a nomination for the 2015 All Australian squad.
Having grown into his leadership role, the co-captain continued to excel and improve in 2014, resulting in his first selection in the 40-man All-Australian squad. Featuring in the club’s opening 20 games, a calf problem ruled him out of the final two matches. That may have cost him a second best and fairest in three years with GWS, overtaken by Shane Mumford in the run home. But more awards are only a matter of time for the tough, talented midfielder.
The co-captain continues to lead from the front, compiling a second successive top-shelf season since moving north from the Western Bulldogs. In his 21 appearances he averaged more than 23 possessions and laid a club-best 94 tackles, leading to a runner-up finish in the best and fairest. His stunning year was capped by a 31-disposal, four-goal effort in the win over Melbourne in round 19.
The former Western Bulldog entered 2012 with a reputation for his toughness and hard running and billed as a player with leadership potential. By the end of the year, he had earned those plaudits and much more. An inaugural GWS co-captain, Ward had an outstanding season, leading the young GIANTS impressively from the midfield. He kicked the club's first ever goal in round one and would end the year as GWS' well-deserved first best and fairest winner.
Pick No.19 in the 2007 NAB AFL Draft, Ward spent four years with the Western Bulldogs before joining GWS. The hard-running midfielder has terrific leadership potential. Played 60 games with the Bulldogs and also made his International Rules debut in 2011.
2007 NAB AFL Draft 2nd round selection (Western Bulldogs) No.19 overall; 2011 uncontracted player selection (GWS GIANTS)
Western Bulldogs (2008-11: 60 games, 33 goals)
NAB AFL Rising Star nominee 2009
Pre-season Premiership Western Bulldogs (2010)
International Rules series 2011
All Australian nominee 2014, 2016
Club Captain 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Kevin Sheedy Medallist 2012
Kevin Sheedy Medal 2nd Place 2013, 2014 (equal)
Kevin Sheedy Medal 3rd Place 2015