Hard running, courageous Bewick reaches 100 WAFL games

Saturday, April 8, 2017 - 1:40 PM by Chris Pike

THERE might have been times when it didn’t look like South Fremantle wingman Shaun Bewick would reach 100 WAFL games, but perseverance and hard work has paid off as he reaches the mark this Saturday against West Perth.

It's only fitting that Bewick reaches the milestone against the club that he began his career with alongside twin brother Rohan and where his family has such a strong history including his father Cory and uncle Darren.

Bewick never thought of anything else aside from playing with West Perth and made his league debut in 2009 but after just 30 games to his credit up until the end of 2011 he felt a fresh change was needed.

And it wasn't just a break from West Perth. Bewick felt it was time to look outside the WAFL and Western Australia, but a week was enough of that in Adelaide and it was the appointment of Paul Hasleby as coach of South Fremantle that brought him to the Bulldogs.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing either since he arrived at South Fremantle in 2012 and stints in the reserves led to him playing in premierships in 2013 and 2015 highlighting that.

It was following that 2015 season when Bewick was weighing up his WAFL future again, but deciding to give it one more try was the best decision he's ever made as he got to play finals last year with the Bulldogs and now remains a strong performer early in 2017.

The hard running and courageous wingman now celebrates his 100th WAFL game on Saturday as South Fremantle hosts West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Bewick doesn’t necessarily feel too much extra when he plays against West Perth anymore, but it is nice symmetry that he reaches his century against the Falcons.

"Bill gave me my start and I'll play my 100th now against his team so it's pretty interesting. I obviously wouldn’t have guessed that it would it pan out this way," Bewick said.

"There's still a few guys there that I did play a bit with like Strijky, Steven Browne, Kody Manning, VB, Blacky and Nelly so there's a few there still but it's not weird playing against them. And to be honest it wasn’t even weird after I first crossed over.

"It was quite enjoyable and it makes it more interesting in some ways. I always want to play well against them. I have played on a wing against Blacky plenty now. He is good fun to play against and he's a good player who runs his own show. I quite enjoy playing against him."

While West Perth is where Bewick started his career and it's where his family has such a strong connection, it just simply felt like it was where he was meant to be in the early days.

"It was just my local footy club so I didn’t know any different. All the guys I played junior footy with and against all went to West Perth so it was just the place I was always going to go," he said.

"I know that my dad played there and so did my uncles and grandad, but really we ended up playing there because we lived in the area. I had a good time there and they were a great bunch of blokes, so I have nothing bad to say about my time there."

There has certainly been a couple of times throughout his journey where Bewick didn’t think he'd end up getting to the 100-game mark.

But deciding to play on last year and end up being part of South Fremantle's run back in the finals meant he was always going to play on in 2017.

"Probably two years ago it definitely didn’t look like I was going to make it and it has taken me eight or nine years, and it's definitely been a long journey. But I'm glad I stuck it out and I'm definitely proud to make it to 100," he said.

"We got so close last year and it was an easy decision to come back again this year because I had no doubt we'd be a good shot for the finals again. So I was always happy to play on again this year and to now get to 100 is an added bonus."

Bewick has made a strong start to the 2017 season as well performing well on the wing for South Fremantle averaging almost 22 disposals and nine marks a game.

The 27-year credits a lot of that to the strong pre-season he had.

"It has probably been the best pre-season I've had in a long time. The last couple of years I've either been injured or away on holidays, but this was the best pre-season I've had in a while and I'm the fittest I have been in a long time and all of that helps," Bewick said.

"Last year in the first couple of weeks I was tonguing it and even towards the back end of the year I felt like I died off which is probably why I was in and out of the door. But now at the start of this season I feel fit and I feel strong and that plays a major part in playing some decent footy out there."

Bewick couldn’t be enjoying his football any more than he is right now and he will always be happy with the move he made to join South Fremantle, but it doesn’t mean it's been easy right the way through.

Not playing finals in the first four years of his career and seeing West Perth play in grand finals in 2013 and 2015, and winning a premiership in the first of those wasn’t necessarily easy.

But now to be playing in a winning team at the Bulldogs is making it all worthwhile.

"Fun is the perfect word to explain what it's like to play footy here at the moment. Both our reserves and league teams are full of great guys and I love playing with all of them every week. I couldn’t think of a better bunch of blokes to now celebrate my 100th with," he said.

"I came here in 2012 just after they played finals in 2011 so in my first four years there was no finals and coming from West Perth who had been in finals in that time including winning a grand final in 2013 made it a bit tougher. We had a dry run there but all the hard work paid off last year with us getting a taste of finals and now we hope that continues this year."

Aside from a desire to play under Hasleby and having a couple of friends at the club, there really was no connection for Bewick at South Fremantle.

But now as he prepares for his 70th league game at the club and his 100th in the WAFL, it feels like home for him and he couldn’t love the club any more.

"When I came I did say tongue in cheek that I wanted to sign for five years because of how much I loved the club straightaway," Bewick said.

"It's hard to say what I liked about it so much and I did know Dell, Googs, Toby Bairstow and Jarrod Parry a little bit, but that was it and I didn’t have any other connections anywhere. Paul Hasleby was a big drawcard too. Being a footy mad kid I loved watching him play and I thought it would be pretty cool to play under him.

"I love this footy club and it's been the best thing I've ever done. Absolutely it was a hard move to make in the first place and when I first decided that I needed a change, I didn’t want to keep playing WAFL and didn’t want to play against my mates at West Perth.

"I thought that was going to be too strange. I went over to Adelaide for a week and trained with Sturt but I just didn’t like that either. The day I got back Hase was appointed coach and Dell sent me a message saying that they might be interested and it's the best decision I've ever made."

While Bewick played virtually all his football alongside twin brother Rohan up until he was drafted by the Brisbane Lions at the end of 2010, it was just what he was used to and probably was never as big a deal to him as it was to others.

"Once he was drafted at the end of 2010 so I played another year at West Perth without him but still had my best mates playing with me back then so it didn’t make the slightest difference to how I was feeling at the club or why I left at the end of next year," he said.

"To be honest, playing in the same teams as my brother was just what we knew through all the grades so we didn’t know any different.

"It was much of the same really once we got to West Perth just at a higher level. I know other people found it interesting that brothers were playing together, but speaking for him as well it was nothing special. It was just all we knew."

Bewick's parents have also done a good job supporting both Shawn and Rohan despite one living and playing in Perth, and the other in Brisbane, and they will both be there for Shaun's big day on Saturday and Rohan's when it comes in the next few weeks with the Lions.

"Mum's doing it very well. She goes over to Brisbane whenever possible or whenever they play Port Adelaide now she always goes over to Adelaide so she hasn’t had any trouble at all watching us both play as much as she can," Bewick said.

"And dad being a recruiter for North Melbourne he spends all his weekends at footy games anyway so neither of them have found it hard at all to support us both. They will be here on Saturday as well.

"At the start of the season, Ro needed eight games for his 100 and I needed four for mine so we weren’t sure if they would clash it or not. But I've got there first now and it's worked out nicely."