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Arrival of Heath sure to boost Giant Hampton's progress

Curtly Hampton of the Giants is chased by Nick Maxwell of the Magpies during the 2013 AFL Round 18 match between the Collingwood Magpies and the GWS Giants at the MCG, Melbourne on July 27, 2013. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Curtly Hampton will look to new teammate Heath Shaw to help him build on a good finish to 2013
Being in the backline, I'm pretty sure he'll take a few of us under his wing
Curtly Hampton on new Giant Heath Shaw
EVER SINCE he was moved into Greater Western Sydney's backline midway through the 2012 season, Curtly Hampton has been trying to model his game on three stars currently playing his position.

One was Harry O'Brien and another was Andrew Walker. The third? His new Giants teammate, Heath Shaw.

Hampton has made impressive strides over the past 18 months adjusting to a new role off the half-back flank.

He is hoping to make another leap this year with the help of the former Magpie.

"As soon as I heard the rumours that he might be coming to the Giants, I was hoping he'd get here because he's one of the players I like to watch off the half-back flank," Hampton told AFL.com.au.

"Him, Harry O'Brien and Andrew Walker are the players I like watching the most.

"Shaw is obviously pretty experienced and played in a premiership so I'm looking forward to learning a lot from him.

"I've heard that he wants to really help develop us and, being in the backline, I'm pretty sure he'll take a few of us under his wing.

"I can't wait to start training with him and picking his brain."

An attacking option throughout his junior career, Hampton initially had some troubles learning his new role.

But the 20-year-old improved noticeably in the back half of 2013 and it was reflected in his numbers.

Playing 18 games for the season, to take his career tally to 35, Hampton's disposals, tackles, rebound 50s and inside 50s all jumped dramatically in his second year.

"I only started playing there in the back half of the 2012 season, so it took me a good year to really know my role and start playing it well," he explained.

"It was a lot about learning when to attack and when to defend and I also had to work on my tackling, because I was never a very good tackler.

"After the bye this year I felt like I came back and really started to play some of the footy I know I can play.

"If I can string a whole year of that kind of form, it could be a really big lift for the team."

Hampton was initially selected in the squad for last month's International Rules Series in Ireland, but his grandfather passed away just before the side was due to depart.

That meant he needed to return home to Alice Springs and spend time in the bush with his family, giving his former GWS teammate Shaun Edwards a place in the touring side.

Hampton had been hoping to rub shoulders with the indigenous team's assistant coach Andrew McLeod, who was his idol growing up, before he had to withdraw.

"Hopefully another opportunity like that comes up in the next few years," Hampton said.

But now he is focused on helping the Giants, with the majority of the side's youngsters to return for pre-season training on Wednesday.

GWS' efforts during the trade period means there is improved depth at the club – including getting the ball moving out of defence.

"Shaw was designated for kick-outs at Collingwood and obviously (GWS recruit Josh) Hunt has got one of the biggest kicks in the AFL," Hampton said.

"You've got to let the old boys take over, but I'll be trying to sneak in a few in the games as well.

"It's just about learning again this year."