GWS veteran Shane Mumford wants to help his AFL club’s next generation of ruckmen step up in the absence of Braydon Preuss, rather than fill the void himself.
The Giants recruited Preuss from Melbourne in November, desperate to improve their ruck stocks after failing to make the finals in 2020.
Preuss underwent a shoulder reconstruction last Thursday, having suffered an untimely – and what appeared at the time innocuous – setback at training earlier in the week.
Mumford, who is gearing up for his 13th AFL season after being retained on the club’s rookie list, is yet to map out with coach Leon Cameron what his season might now look like.
But the imposing 34-year-old believes his days as first ruck are done, urging apprentices Matt Flynn and Kieren Briggs to seize the opportunity that has presented itself.
GWS academy products Flynn and Briggs are yet to play an AFL game, with 2015 draftee Flynn now in the box seat for a round-one debut.
“It’s a massive loss for us. Extremely disappointing for Preussy to miss potentially half the season,” Mumford told AAP.
“But it gives Flynny and possibly Briggsy an opportunity to take that No.1 ruck spot, then Preussy has to fight for it when he gets back.
“I’m sure Leon will give me the call-up to play a game here and there.
“For me it’s about handing the reins over to the younger guys and putting the club in a good position, ruck wise, for the next few years.”
Mumford is feeling fresh and quipped GWS have mastered “how to get the best out of a fragile old man”, but suggested playing six or so games this season would be “plenty” for him.
“My aim is to get the best out of these young guys. The best way for me to do that is train with them,” he said.
The GWS wrecking ball retired in 2017 because of degenerative ankle and knee problems then spent a year as an assistant coach with the Giants.
Mumford has since signed three one-year contracts, repeatedly disproving the doubters to extend his comeback tour.
It begs the obvious question as to whether the former boilermaker, first drafted by Geelong in 2007, will hang up the boots after 2021.
“You never say never,” Mumford said.
“But more than likely this will be it. I would be quite amazed if this wasn’t my last season.”
Mumford, who welcomed Preuss to Sydney by inviting him to boxing sessions, felt for his “shattered” teammate.
“He’s done so much hard work,” Mumford said.
“But his attitude has been great.
“He sent all us ruck boys an abusive message in our WhatsApp group, straight after surgery, so he certainly hasn’t lost his sense of humour.”