Heath Shaw’s decision to join the GIANTS will be looked upon as a key moment in the young club’s history.
That’s according to inaugural GIANT James McDonald, who was part of the club’s coaching panel when Shaw and Shane Mumford were recruited to the club from Collingwood and Sydney at the end of 2013.
McDonald believes the pair – who signed on after the GIANTS had won just one game in their second season – helped legitimise what the club was building, while adding energy, experience and leadership to a young group.
“Those two I think made a real difference,” said McDonald, in a recent interview.
“They were two really good players and two extroverted characters, and they had their own stories for how they ended up at the club, but they’ve both been able to come in and have a really positive impact with their performance as players but also with their personalities and their nature.
“And they weren’t there just to grab the cash and go, both have become really invested in the club and the group, which is a great endorsement for them and the footy club.”
The story behind Shaw’s move from the Magpies to Greater Western Sydney is one of five that will feature in a new podcast series – Becoming GIANT, presented by Bingo Industries.
Lachie Whitfield, Matt de Boer, Daniel Lloyd and Zac Williams will tell the stories behind their move to the club in other episodes of the podcast.
Shaw talks through his delisting by Collingwood, the process of selecting the GIANTS as his second home and the long, stressful trade period that followed.
Whitfield was the second of three No. 1 draft picks in a row, and had fair warning that he would likely be moving to Sydney: the GIANTS told him in March of his draft year that they wanted him.
De Boer describes what it felt like to go from a regular, reliable member of the Fremantle side – and one of the team’s most influential leaders - to on the outer in the space of one season.
Re-drafted by the GIANTS at the end of 2017, he explains how he balanced fitting into a new, established group while trying to continue where he left off at the Dockers as a leader.
Lloyd’s story is different again – he wasn’t ready for professional football when he had a taste of it as a Western Bulldogs NSW scholarship player as a teenager.
At 23 – discovered by assistant coach Mark McVeigh while working as a carpenter and playing local footy on the NSW central coast – he soon became desperate to make the most of his second chance.
But his decision to take up the GIANTS' offer of a rookie-list spot wasn't one he could make on his own: he had a wife and two young kids to consider.
Then there is Williams, who joined the GIANTS Academy in its very early days but had to prove himself in a tough few weeks of pre-season training before being taken on as a rookie.
As jealous as Williams was of the just-drafted players he was training alongside – Whitfield and Aidan Corr among them – he soon became determined to be better than them.
The first episode of Becoming GIANT, featuring Shaw is available below.