Shane Mumford AFL comeback, Giants to sign Mumford in supplemental selection period
Shane Mumford is officially a Greater Western Sydney player again but coach Leon Cameron has admitted his gamble to return to the AFL is no guarantee to succeed.
The 32-year-old rejoined the Giants as a rookie on Saturday under the AFL’s new pre-season supplementary rules after a year out of the game.
He will not be eligible to play in Rounds 1 and 2 next season, however, after being suspended by the club and fined $25,000 after a video showing him snorting cocaine in 2015 was unearthed.
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Mumford spent this year continuing to complete his rehabilitation on a foot injury that forced him to retire after the 2017 season with outstanding results.
Now he can’t wait to slot into a playing role again after serving as GWS ruck coach this year.
He officially starts pre-season training on Monday.
“I can’t wait to get back out there next season,” Mumford said.
“After medical advice said playing last year would be detrimental to my long-term future, I threw myself into my role as a ruck coach while training and keeping fit for a potential boxing career.
“My body responded really well to the break and I’m feeling as fit as I ever have been previously.
“Still being involved in the club allowed me to continue to work in football and when the discussion came up about a potential return, I jumped at it.
“12 months has passed, but I feel really confident I can contribute on the field to the Giants’ side in 2019.”
At his best Mumford is a fearsome raging bull of a ruckman who makes his teammates stand tall.
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His return will significantly boost the Giants’ ruck department after the departure of Rory Lobb to Fremantle during the off-season.
“It was certainly an unexpected development but one we were immediately intrigued by,” GWS list boss Jason McCartney said.
“Medically, Shane has been cleared to return to AFL football and once that happened, it simply became a question of whether Shane’s appetite to compete at the highest level was there.
“Having still been involved in the club as a coach, Shane is keen to contribute on the field in 2019 while continuing to help develop the other ruckmen on the Giants’ list.”
The Giants have endured a troubled off-season with salary cap issues meaning Dylan Shiel, Will Setterfield, Tom Scully and Rory Lobb departed as Toby Greene recently underwent foot surgery.
Cameron knows there are doubters regarding the Mumford decision, he has backed in a player who could fill a key void in the ruck if he can stay on the paddock.
“I’m a believer of second chances and guys make mistakes in life, and Shane made a really big one,” he said.
“We’ll work with him closely to make sure he makes better decisions. He’s determined to make the wrongs right and we’ll be there to help him through that.
“It’s a wonderful story, it’s an interesting story, and no doubt plenty is going to be written about it.”
Mumford battled a navicular issue in late 2017 that forced his retirement but as he worked as a ruck coach and boxed professionally he believed he could again withstand football’s rigours.
Cameron said the club’s medical assessments on Mumford were optimistic enough for them to take a chance.
“How do you know (his body will stand up) in March, April and May when you’re playing back to back to back (games)?” he said.
“But we’re willing to take a calculated risk because we’ve done all the research on him.
“Am I really confident that his attitude and his application is spot on? Yes, it is.
“The way he’s gone about his boxing and his cross-training in his own time and present himself in a manner that we think can stand up to AFL footy has been great.
“But if you look back at history, it’s really hard to come back after a year out.”
Josh Kelly is easing back into training after a meniscus tear and hip issues during the season, while Greene’s surgery after only nine games last year puts him out until post-Christmas.
But the Giants have few other injury issues with Brett Deledio back in training and Heath Shaw in good shape after a medial ligament reconstruction in August.