My first impressions of Shannon… well, no one actually calls him Shannon. Around the club his name is Bunga.
When I first arrived in Perth I didn’t have a car so the club organised a player to drive me to training and that player was Bunga.
I didn’t know too much about West Coast at the time so I’d assumed that they had sent a 30-year-old down to pick me up.
Bunga looked like he had been playing AFL for 10 years and had 200 games under his belt as a 19-year-old.
My first thought was, ‘wow he’s an old looking 19-year-old.’
During our first few years at the club we both lived with a host family in a suburb called Duncraig.
There were a group of us who had all been drafted around that time from interstate and so we developed quite a strong bond.
Not being from WA we didn’t have a lot of those contacts around Perth that the local guys had so we worked through those first couple of years by staying really tight as a playing group.
Bunga and I have always been defenders since we were drafted.
Although I’ve played a little bit around the field, my mainstay has been in defence.
I think at footy clubs the defenders are usually the tightest group.
In our own seperate ways, we can both be somewhat blunt characters on the field and like to say what we think.
There’s been lots of funny conversations after games where we’ve shared any banter or sledging we’ve had with the opposition and sometimes our own teammates.
I think that’s the best thing about Bunga, as hard as he competes on the field he’s always happy to have a laugh at the end of the game.
Last year’s premiership is a playing highlight together but we also played in a losing grand final together, too.
We’ve shared both those sets of emotions and so we’ve developed plenty of memories.
As a leader, Bunga is calm and methodical.
He focuses on putting processes in place and training with purpose to enable you to do the actions required of you on game day.
He’s got great football nous and understands the game extremely well.
As time has gone on as captain he’s added a voice to his leadership style in addition to his on-field actions.
He’s always been a consistent leader and player and you knew the standards he set, but as he has gone on Bunga has been able to develop himself to inspire others through what he says and impart his knowledge on the game.
Bunga is such a great mind on the footy field but when you become the captain of a footy club you’ve got to be able to spread your love across the whole list.
That’s one thing he’s done extremely well since he became captain four years ago.
He has the ability to understand others and what makes them tick and is able to deal with different people in different ways while also keeping his own.
He doesn’t try to be someone he’s not.
Instead he’s able to relate to everyone and talk to them on a Shannon Hurn level even though he doesn’t live the same lifestyle as everyone else.
It’s what makes him a great leader and a premiership captain.
There’s not too much I can’t share publicly about Bunga, he is somewhat vanilla off the field.
It has however, become a bit of a myth around the footy club about what he does during his time away from football.
He’s a bit of a hermit and no one really knows what he gets up to.
He treks off and does a bit of fishing, hunting and camping.
Sometimes he’s a bit of a recluse but it’s his way of getting away from the football bubble.
Bunga is your typical country footballer who has developed into one of the best captains in the AFL.
The way he goes about his footy is the way I imagine any country footy player goes about it, possibly with a few less beers.
He’s consistent, loves the banter on the field and having a chat after.
Bunga is an all-around nice guy that just loves his footy, and some parts of this article make me feel like I am writing a dating profile for the great man!
There’s always been a bit of banter between us about our hairlines.
We’re both the baldest blokes at the footy club but we love it.
We’re just a couple of defenders running around the backline with hair moving further and further down our scalps as the seasons go on.
There’s nothing better than a bald bloke, don’t you worry about that!
It has been an absolute pleasure to grow up, play alongside and under Bunga as my premiership captain.
Balding or not, he will go down as one of West Coast’s great players and I feel extremely lucky to have shared in his football journey so far.