Hawthorn midfielder Liam Shiels will play his 200th AFL game against Geelong this weekend. Hawks teammate and business partner Ryan Schoenmakers has provided a key insight into why the man they name ‘Pup’ is so highly respected.
Liam and I were drafted together in 2008 and we quickly established a close bond.
Even early on, when we first started to get to know each other, he was just one of those people who was really genuine and had a high amount of respect around the club.
His respect extends beyond the club to fans and everyone he comes into contact with. He always has time for people, he listens to people, and that’s why people connect with him.
Following in the footsteps of some pretty famous leaders of our club like ‘Mitch’ and ‘Hodgey’, ‘Pup’ has found his own leadership style.
Nothing’s really changed in that regard. He’s not as loud or as present in the media as what the other guys are, but he just goes about his business without fuss.
Externally, he might be underrated but not within the club. Within the club he’s so well respected because of all he has achieved. He came in really early on and played 11 games in his first season in 2009, even while he trained part-time and completed year 12 at high school.
He’s a guy that never shies away from a contest. I don’t know how many knocks he copped in his first year, hitting in and tackling but he held his own and that’s where the respect from his teammates was established.
When you’re that age playing in the midfield, to do what he did and play as much footy as he has now is pretty impressive.
The nickname ‘Pup’ stuck from pretty early on. He used to have the blond tips in his hair and he went to a dress up party as (former Australian cricket captain) Michael Clarke whose nickname also happened to be Pup. The fact that he was one of the youngest on our list meant the nickname suited him well.
As he’s got a little more mature in his career, you just know what you’re going to get from him and he’s so reliable in the midfield.
Playing in that 2015 premiership with Pup was special.
He had obviously won two flags already in 2013 and 2014, and I had missed out in those years, so to share that experience with him is something I’ll never forget.
For me personally, having someone like that who you can trust is so important.
He’s someone who actively listens when you’re talking and his empathy is extraordinary.
I’ve had a rocky couple of years with injury and whatnot so to have someone like that you can talk to is pretty special.
We’ve also got a business together, called PlayOn Finance, which we’ve started up in the last two years while completing a Diploma in Finance and Mortgage Broking.
Pup and I work really well together. We’ve been doing that for two years now and we had a lot of family and friends use us and a few more clients have jumped on board now. The interest rates have dropped so that’s helped us out recently!
Liam continues to keep his body in good nick and it’s a credit to him and he always has that real grind mentality in the pre-season and the longer the year goes on.
He’s one of the hardest working players at the club and he never gives up and that’s what we all love about him.
Good luck in your 200th game Pup!