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Ward a Cement Head from day one

Drafted alongside Callan Ward in 2007, Sam Reid formed a close relationship with the hard-at-it Bulldog before crossing to the Giants together at the end of 2011. Reid shares his experiences with the GWS co-captain on and off the field in an exclusive column.

When I think of Callan Ward, toughness, fearless attack on the footy and competitiveness is what springs to mind.

And you wouldn’t be surprised to know that he’s always been like that.

I first met Callan When we were at an induction day after being drafted to the Western Bulldogs in 2007. He was still in school at the time and I was from Queensland so we didn’t say too much to each other then.

He wasn’t at the club much in our first year in the system because of school commitments. He used to train after hours when we’d all gone home.

But it didn’t take long to realise he was as tough as nails.

Early on in 2008, we played a VFL game for Williamstown against Werribee. Callan ran back with the flight and had his nose splattered across his face — there was blood everywhere.

But within minutes, he was back on the ground, crooked nose and all. For Callan, it was like nothing had happened. He was 18 at the time, still a schoolkid, so it proved he was tough from the moment he walked through the club’s doors.

He got the nickname ‘Cement Head’ because of that.

Not too long later, he made his AFL debut against the Saints. There was a big write up in the paper and media at his school — not that he needed to show anyone that he played footy but I reckon he wore his Bulldogs gear into the classroom.

Callan’s a shy guy and he’d be the first to admit doing media isn’t his forte but he’s come a long way in regards to his public speaking.

We actually lived together in 2010 and 2011 when we were at the Bulldogs and while we may have mentioned and joked about moving to the Giants together during that last year, Cal kept his cards close to his chest.

He made the decision quite late whereas I was always going to come up here. I think the Giants thought if they could get me than that might help them get him as well.

I think he wanted to stay loyal to the Bulldogs but, in the end, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to build a club from the ground up.

We lived together for the first two years at the Giants as well. He’s quite domesticated, Callan. Doesn’t mind having a clean house — for some reason he used to love vacuuming. I’m not sure about his skills as a chef, though.

He’s a natural leader in the way he went about things on the track and on the field but I don’t know how keen he was on being a captain at such a young age — he wasn’t even 22 at the time!

He just goes about his business. He doesn’t miss a training session, he’s always out there and is so resilient. That’s why he’s only 28 and is playing game 200.

He’s so competitive at training, too. After all these years, we still hate losing to each other. He sets the standard in how hard he attacks the contest.

On the field, he’s one of those blokes you want to follow because he does things that pick the team up.

Off the field, he’s still a reserved guy but he’s actually quite funny, which you probably wouldn’t have picked. He’s reasonably quick-witted, although he doesn’t let his guard down too much.

Back in the day, Callan used to have this habit where he’d disappear for 45 minutes to an hour after having a couple of drinks. Turns out he would find a couch or something and fall asleep before coming back. I don’t know why but it was a bit strange.

I think those days are over now but it’s been great to be a part of his journey and see Cal become one of the competition’s most respected individuals.