West Coast champion and 2014 Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis details the evolution of best mate Shannon Hurn’s leadership after the premiership skipper was voted by his peers as the AFL Players’ Association’s Best Captain, presented by The Diamond Guys.
‘Bunga’ is very clear on who he is as a person and as a footballer. He keeps things very simple and that’s why he’s such a great captain.
He’s someone people feel really comfortable to have footy and personal conversations with and he builds great relationships because he’s so open and so honest.
He definitely likes to keep things simple and he doesn’t get flustered.
Right from a young age I think everyone knew he was going to be the captain of the footy club and he’s always been confident enough to do it in his own way and I’ve always admired that.
Following in the footsteps of great leaders like Ben Cousins and Chris Judd was always going to be challenging, but Bunga is someone who’s not going to get influenced by people who say, ‘You’ve got to do that this way’ or ‘You have to lead like this’.
He’s confident enough in his own ability to do it his way and that’s why he’s been so successful.
That’s the best thing about leadership. There’s so many different forms of it. You have to be authentic and you have to be yourself because you get found out if you don’t.
Bung’s got some really good mentors that he works closely with and he takes advice from a lot of different people and then he puts his own flavour and twist on it.
He’s always trying to make sure that his mates around him and the footy club are getting better so that’s a great sign of a captain.
When he first became skipper in 2015, there was a lot of pressure on him to perform well in the role.
In his first 12 months in the role, he was probably looking a bit too big picture and trying to help too many people around him and work out where the club was going.
But once he got into his second and third year as skipper he realised the importance of making sure he was doing the right things himself while also getting that balance right of helping the guys around him.
Bung is well supported by a strong leadership group consisting of Josh Kennedy and Luke Shuey and last year’s premiership win was a real effort from that group to build the confidence and spirit within the playing group.
They had some amazing talent, but it was about harnessing that and developing those young guys and Shannon was central to ensuring that was the case.
Bunga was always someone I could be completely honest and open with about anything, from football to personal life. He’s someone who’s always going to give you an honest answer to help walk you through some of the issues you go through throughout your career.
You couldn’t ask for a better mate.
He’s so consistent in his performance on game day but his attitude to the way he prepares himself is his standout quality. The standards that he sets for himself is basically all he accepts from his teammates around him.
He’s not asking people to do things that he wouldn’t do and that’s what makes him such a strong leader at West Coast.
Best Captain, presented by the Diamond Guys
Shannon Hurn – 171
Patrick Cripps – 128
Scott Pendlebury – 82
Joel Selwood – 52
Trent Cotchin – 50