Hurn caps journey from modest young pup to AFL flag skipper
HIGHLY respected Central District coach Roy Laird recalls West Coast premiership captain Shannon Hurn's early days as a league footballer with the Bulldogs as nothing special.
The seven-times premiership coach described him as a solid-framed kid who struggled with his fitness.
But after a season and a half of senior football at Elizabeth Oval, Laird had no doubt the Barossa product had the qualities of a special player.
Hurn already had two SANFL premiership medallions by the time he was drafted by West Coast in 2005 and Laird is in no way surprised with the path his career has travelled.
"He was a real country lad, very understated in everything he did, very modest," Laird said. "In his early days he did not set the world on fire.
"He always had a solid frame and for a while he struggled with fitness and struggled to get around the ground. But he was always smart how he went about it. But by the end of his time with us he was clearly a quality player.
"He was always mature enough to handle the limelight of the AFL and to see him go on to be the captain of the club, it is a credit to him."
Hurn was drafted by the Eagles with selection No. 13.
Two picks later the Bulldogs lost Travis Varcoe to Geelong where he won two flags before being traded to Collingwood.
Two years earlier, Sam Butler had been drafted from the Bulldogs and played in the 2006 premiership with the Eagles.
"Shannon has been with the Eagles through some trying times and to come out as level headed as he is, I look back to his family and his upbringing," Laird said.
"He is one of those fortunate ones to come from a magnificent family and he shows the benefits of that by the way he goes about his football.
"His dad (William) 'Bunga' was winding up his career when I started playing seniors at the Dogs. He was a fantastic bloke, very modest, a nice bloke but tough at the same time, he was hard at it.
"Shannon and 'Bunga' are from the same mould in that respect. When the Eagles were under pressure in the first half on Saturday, Shannon was terrific and one of those who held them in it."