Since crossing over from the Swans at the end of 2014, Shane Biggs has gradually become a permanent fixture in the Western Bulldogs’ back six.
His ability to implement the Dogs’ shifting zone defence by acting as a key intercept player, and also as a rebounder off half back has been a welcome sight for a club that has battled through numerous injury setbacks.
Whether it be Bob Murphy’s horrific knee injury in round 3, or Jason Johannisen’s troublesome hamstring, the Bulldogs’ half-back line has been forced to adopt the next-man-up mentality.
After playing just 10 games in his debut year with the Dogs, Biggs has featured in all 25 matches in 2016, and has relished the consistent opportunity.
“The plan after playing some of the second half of last year was to get some consistency into my game, and to not go down injured,” Biggs told Aflplayers.com.au.
“There’s been a hex on the halfbacks at the Doggies.”
Grand Final week is always an emotional time for those involved, but for Biggs it takes on a different meaning.
He played six games with the Swans across two seasons (2013 and 2014), and featured in two finals in that time.
Starved of opportunity in Sydney, the Bulldogs swooped on Biggs, using the pick 37 they received at the end of 2014 from Essendon for Adam Cooney, and on-traded that for Biggs and pick 39.
Almost two years after the deal was finalised, the stars have aligned for him to meet his former teammates on the grandest of stages.
“It is weird, but regardless of who I’m playing, it’s going to be an intense week.”
“I’ve spoken to a couple of the boys throughout the season, and I’m sure I’ll see them in the offseason. There’s just one week to go, so we’ll have a chat after that.”
The contrasting approach from both teams will be fascinating to watch as the week progresses.
The Swans are as experienced as they come when it comes to this stage, having been here most recently in 2014 and 2012. While the drought-breakers from the west will be soaking up the magic of the week for the first time since 1961.
“A couple of mates of mine who used to play with the Swans have sent me some texts telling me to ‘enjoy the week.’ Everyone says that it’s the best week of your life, so we’re all excited to take it as it comes,” Biggs explained.
“I don’t think there’s a formula to how you’re meant to do it, it’s all a bit random.”
Column inches will be filled throughout the week detailing the long-suffering Bulldogs fans. Clearly, the players won’t be using that as an extra motivating factor, but they all realise the need to embrace it.
“When you see the fans, it feels like a local club out here.”
“All the fans are in the café when we’re having lunch, and various people come up to you and thank you for just getting to this stage.
“It becomes personal and you take a bit of that on — that drives us all to do well. Just to be in it is awesome, and we’re excited about the week.”
Regardless of the result — whether it’s elation or devastation — Biggs knows the feeling will be strange when the final siren sounds.
With friends on both teams, the emotion may be bittersweet for the 25-year-old.
“I haven’t thought about how I’d celebrate or anything like that. Even against GWS, I just stood there after we won like a fool. I didn’t know what to do until I hugged someone,” Biggs joked.
“I’ve got heaps of mates there, so there’s definitely no hard feelings — I love a lot of the boys there.”