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Ward Pays Tribute to Co-captain Ahead of Game 150

Callan Ward (left) has paid tribute to his co-captain Phil Davis (right) ahead of the latter's 150th game.
He thinks about footy in a way that not many players do.
Callan Ward on Phil Davis

When he punches through his milestone-inspired banner to take on Carlton this afternoon, Phil Davis will do it with a touch of disappointment that his GIANTS co-captain Callan Ward won't be next to him.

Two of the club's first established signings in 2011, Davis and Ward were hand-picked to skipper the new club alongside veteran Luke Power through the GIANTS' innaugural season, and with Geelong's Joel Selwood, they're the longest serving captains in the competition.

That means two things – they've become extremely close, and they've had to help each other through some adversity.

Davis will play game 150 (18 of those with Adelaide) against the Blues at GIANTS Stadium but Ward will watch from the bench, with the tough midfielder done for the season after undergoing a knee reconstruction last month.

The 28-year-old key defender, who fought through a host of injury setbacks early in his time at the GIANTS, most notably a lacerated kidney that left him gravely ill after a Sydney derby clash with the Swans, said not having Ward on the field with him on Sunday was disappointing.

"With any milestone, you want to experience it with the people you've spent a lot of time with and gone through the most hardships with, and Cal is probably at the top of that tree," Davis said this week.

"But he'll find his way to me before the game no doubt and hopefully we can celebrate after the game."

The partnership of Davis and Ward – on and off the field - has grown significantly since they arrived in Sydney, and much like their club, they've had to go through some rough times to find success.

Ward told AFL.com.au that he'd been privileged to watch Davis develop into one of the game's most respected leaders in their time at the GIANTS.

"At the start we both had to learn how to be leaders and we had no idea what we were doing, so we've had to grow and mature over the last eight years," Ward said.

"Over the last three or four years in particular he's really worked on his leadership.

"He used to be really black and white with the way he thought about things, especially leadership stuff when it came to football, but now he understands people and football a lot more.

"He understands that there's grey (areas) in people's personalities and the way they go about things so he's a lot more relatable, and that shows he's come a long way."

Davis played 22 games in the GIANTS' first season in 2012 but managed just 36 games in his next three as a run of setbacks hindered his on-field progression.

But he hasn't played fewer than 21 games in a season since 2016 – coincidentally was the club's first foray into the finals – and is now an elite key defender of the competition.

Ward said given the way Davis approached all aspects of his footy he was not surprised he had turned around his career, and his fellow captain was a major factor in the emergence of the GIANTS' hard-nosed approach in recent years.

"He thinks about footy in a way that not many players do," Ward said.

"He's extremely intelligent and he can articulate some things and teach players in a way that others can't.

"He makes you understand things in his own complex way of explaining them, but he makes it seem so simple.

"The backs down there absolutely love playing with him because they rely on him to get the job done against whoever he's playing on.

"Whether it's the best big forward or a smaller player he just gets it done.

"In terms of his football leadership he's tough and never gives in and is a huge asset to the team."