Celebrating a 300-AFL game career for a Barossa boy and SANFL star

Ahead of his 300th AFL game, Peter Argent spoke to Shannon Hurn about his journey from a Barossa all-rounder and dual Central District Premiership player to his captaincy of the 2018 West Coast Eagles Premiership team.

By Peter Argent

The Hurn name has a longstanding connection with sport in the Barossa Valley, and now Shannon Hurn will be forever etched into the history of the West Coast Eagles Football Club as its first player to reach 300 AFL games this weekend.

In 2004, Shannon “Bunger” Hurn, at just 17 years and 29 days, became the second youngest League premiership player in SANFL history (James Aish being the youngest), playing a part in Central District’s mammoth win over the Eagles.

Today, as he heads into this most significant milestone game, Hurn explains how his sporting education at home in the Barossa, through junior state teams for both football and cricket, along with his experiences at the Northern Jets Cricket Club and Central District Football Club, were so important in his development.

“Playing cricket with, and against, men at an early age helps me know how sport was and should be played,” Hurn said.

“I was also lucky enough to be in a number of successful teams in both footy and cricket.

“Playing with men, you were sometimes given firm feedback, but it was for the right reasons.

“There were a number of senior guys at Angaston Cricket (Club) in those early years, along with the likes of Graham Manou, Mark Higgs, ‘Cossie’ (Mark Cosgrove) and Darren Lehmann at the Jets.

“Our state under 15s cricket coach, Mick Weatherald (father of Sturt and Norwood champion Tim Weatherald), was among the best I had from an educational point of view.

“I did play a game or two of cricket with Dad…but I didn’t make too many runs.”

Hurn with his first All-Australian jumper in 2005 when he was captain of the SA Under 18 state team. Photo: Peter Argent

Reflecting on his younger football playing days, Hurn said there were “plenty of strong mentors along the way”, including Rob Polito, Andrew “Buns” McLean, Jeff Brown and, of course, seven-time SANFL League premiership coach Roy Laird, who were all important from a coaching perspective in his years coming through the ranks at Central District.

“From a playing perspective, Nathan Steinberner would drive me down to training and I learnt a lot from him, while Daniel Healy and the Gowans boys, James and Chris were great,” he said.

“Tony Micale, a premiership coach at East Perth, was my defensive coach in the early years at the Eagles…he was important in the first couple of seasons in the west.

“Peter Sumich, John Worsfold and a man with a long career in football, Rob Wiley, from a skills perspective also had a significant impact.”

When it came to those who had influenced him on the playing side, Hurn noted Dean Cox, Darren Glass and Quinton Lynch as all being important along the journey, while “great mate” Matthew Priddis had “left no stone unturned from a preparation point of view”.

He also confirmed that his family heritage in sport, with his father and grandfather having played at elite levels, helped from a skill perspective and with his understanding of the game, along with how to get the best out of yourself.

Hurn’s player profile headshot for Central District in 2004. Photo: Peter Argent

Now in his 16th season wearing the Eagles’ blue and gold in the AFL, Hurn says he has been pretty fortunate to have been relatively injury free, enabling him to stay in the game at a professional level for so many years.

“When I first came to the club, Drew Banfield had played 250 games and I thought that was a huge achievement,” he said.

“Initially you’re just happy to get selected. As you stay in the game for longer, it’s how you can contribute to the team.”

Hurn says he is enjoying his football at the moment and is happy with his body and form currently.

“At this stage I’d like to continue in 2022,” Hurn mused.

“There has been some positive discussions happening currently.”

Hurn with sister Ashton, mum Sandi and dad William in the changerooms after the 2018 West Coast Premiership win. Photo: Peter Argent

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