Heath Shaw is adamant GWS will break new ground in the USA soon and he intends on being there, having fronted a video to promote AFL in the untapped market this week.
Shaw’s sibling rivalry with North Melbourne coach Rhyce will resume, along with GWS’s push for a maiden premiership, at Giants Stadium on Sunday.
A crowd of 350 will be watching at the venue but GWS hopes the match, broadcast on Fox Sports 1 in the USA, will also capture the interest of Americans craving live sport.
The club this week tweeted an explanatory video, featuring snippets of AFL, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and MLS footage, in which Shaw urges viewers to “root for your new home team the Giants”.
There is some substance to the sentiment.
GWS had been advancing plans to play a home game for premiership points in the USA, potentially a stand-alone season opener, until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The fixture hasn’t been a priority in recent months for obvious months, but Shaw suggested it is “definitely still in our club’s planning”.
“Those plans are still there to play an AFL game for premiership points in America,” the veteran told AAP.
“Hopefully it’s in the near future, rather than the long-term future, because I’m not sure how long the body can hold on for.
“But no matter what, if the Giants are playing in America, I will definitely be there.”
The 34-year-old, who is mulling whether to play on in 2021 and extend his career into an 18th season, is likely to have retired whenever the landmark fixture is staged.
But Shaw, who developed the script for this week’s video with help from the Giants’ media department, is a big believer in GWS’s American dream.
“Australian rules footy has tried to expand internationally over the years. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” he said.
“But when people watch our game for the first time, they often love it. It’s just a matter of getting people to watch it once … we should spread the word as much as we can.”
Shaw kept busy during the COVID-19 shutdown by hosting ‘Heath’s Happy Hour’, a series of virtual fireside chats designed to help club staff stay connected when they were either working from home or not working at all.
The veteran is keen to resume the season, but for now is only worried about “getting a kick” against the team coached by his brother.
“I’ve spoken to him this week. I speak to him most weeks,” he said.
“He’ll be keen to even the ledger (after North lost to GWS while Rhyce was caretaker coach in 2019).”