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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Hurn always destined for stardom, says former coach

Shannon Hurn’s former state league coach Roy Laird has paid tribute to the West Coast legend, who announced his retirement yesterday.

The 2018 premiership captain and club game record holder will end his playing career at the end of this season after 18 years, with the round 22 Western Derby and the round 24 clash with Adelaide slated as his last two games having made 332 AFL apperances to date.

Hailing from a farm in Angaston in the Barossa Valley, Hurn was zoned to SANFL club Central District before being drafted by the Eagles in 2005, with Laird telling Sports Breakfast he was a prodigiously talented youngster.

“He was always a mature young lad. When we saw him initially in the juniors, it was bordering on unfair, he had a man’s body, he had a great football brain. To see him running around with his own age group, he was just a league above,” Laird said.

“Bunga looked like he was running in mud at times, he did it hard early. He had a big frame and he struggled with his fitness.

“The more he got to know his body and caught up to speed, he became an elite player at our level in his early days as a 16, 17-year-old.”

“His kicking was elite, stood him out at an early age.”

Hurn played in 2004 and 2005 league premiership wins at the Bulldogs as a teenager, but Laird said he never had any reservations about exposing the then-16-year-old to playing against grown men.

“Bunga was really popular. He’s a grounded guy, his character is warming,” he said.

“I remember all the senior players at the time would badger at me, ‘we’ve got to get this kid in the team’. It was an easy choice.

“In ‘04, he had a pretty quiet game to be honest, but his last year with us, it was a tight game and he played a key role in that grand final as a young kid. It was a great stepping stone onto what was to become a great AFL career.”

Laird said Hurn’s incredibly successful career, with individual honours including two All-Australian selections and three Glendenning-Allan medals, would have come as no surprise to anyone involved with him at an earlier age.

“He was always going to give himself the best chance,” he said.

“In professional sport, whether it’s money or media attention, a lot of people get ahead of themselves. Shannon was never like that, he was always going to be level-headed, always prepared to do the work, always prepared to support those around him.

“To go on to become a captain of the club and a premiership player, unfortunately not all great players get the opportunity to be able to do that. I’m rapt for that he has been able to for him and his family. You just like seeing good people get rewards, I’m stoked for him.”

IMAGE: Perth is Ok!


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