THEY may be rivals on the football field but when it comes to promoting the wool industry West Coast Eagles captain Shannon Hurn and Fremantle Dockers captain Nat Fyfe are on the same team – team wool.
Shannon, who comes from a sheep property at Angaston in South Australia’s Barossa Valley has joined Nat as part of the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Fibre of Football campaign.
As the State gears up this week for the second ‘Western Derby’ of the year between the Eagles and Dockers and rivalries are reignited, AWI brought the captains together last week to promote the wool industry.
The two joined forces for a photo shoot with AWI to promote the Fibre of Football program and the wool industry in general, supporting the farmers, shearers, transport operators, fashion designers and retailers behind the natural product.
Since 2014, the Fibre of Football campaign has highlighted the strong and enduring connections between Australian football and the wool industry.
Along with Nat, Geelong’s Tom Hawkins, Hawthorn’s Luke Breust, Melbourne’s Bernie Vince and Channel 7 commentator Hamish McLachlan have all shared their deep connection to the country as part of their involvement in the campaign.
The result of the photo shoot as you probably have already seen are the special pull-out posters in this week’s Farm Weekly featuring the high-profile footballers in their respective teams 100 per cent retro wool jumpers with Merino and Poll Merino rams from the Bolt family’s Claypans stud, Corrigin.
While it certainly wasn’t the first time they had been photographed in football jumpers, it was the first time they had been up close and personal holding a ram in a photo shoot, but it didn’t deter them and their country upbringing showed through.
As part of their involvement both Shannon and Nat also chatted with AWI’s Ellie Bigwood on the day and shared their views on the wool industry, along with some light banter on the photo shoot and football for the organisation’s The Yarn podcast which will be online today.
With strong links to the sheep and wool industry, both are well placed to give their views on the industry and spread the good word about wool and they certainly promoted it strongly in the podcast.
Nat said it has been a transitional journey for him in the wool industry and he had been lucky to see both sides.
“With my parents owning a trucking company and transporting sheep for a living, I have seen that side of things and now I am seeing the other side of the industry where wool gets transformed into high-class garments for runway shows and also into sports/active wear with the likes of adidas and Nike using it in their products,” Nat said.
“I love the Australian wool product, it is world-class and I am lucky to get to wear it in a lot of things I do.
“I have worn wool every year for the past five years to the Brownlow Medal count and I also wear 100 per cent Australian Merino wool to all my other functions.
“Having now seen wool as a finished product, it is a world-class premium product which growers should be proud of.
“In my opinion our Merino wool is some of the best product in the world, so I think we should be grateful for what all our wool growers do across the country.”
For Shannon, who grew up on a farm, said supporting the wool industry was just one of those things he always wanted to do growing up in the country.
“The wool industry over the years hasn’t been strong but is starting to come back and is now going pretty well,” Shannon said.
“If we can contribute in anyway to promote it, that’s what we are aiming to do.”
And that means any time he is wearing a suit, he tries to make sure it is made with Australian wool.
With his father still running the family farm in South Australia, when the season finishes Shannon always tries to get back and help out as they are either crutching, selling lambs or shearing.
“I would love to go home at some stage for sure, but I don’t think it will be straight away after football,” he said.
“Dad is still on the property and it has always been a family farm, so I do really want to go back and continue it.”
With 100pc Merino wool retro footy jumpers, scarves, beanies and gloves, the AFL now sells more than 500 lines of woollen apparel through shop.afl.com.au helping connect football fans with high quality woollen products that keep them warm over the winter months.