Callan Ward during the Greater Western Sydney Official Team Photo Day on February 13, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

THERE is plenty of fanfare for Callan Ward at the moment and justifiably so as the Greater Western Sydney warrior becomes just the 103rd player in VFL/AFL history to notch up 300 games.

But while the Giants’ inaugural captain is full of pride at his remarkable achievement, he is not one for pomp and ceremony.

His lone football desire is simply to win the premiership he so desperately craves this season, and then sail off into the AFL sunset.

"Yeh, I think so. I want to play in a premiership, that's all I want to do," said Ward, who admits he'll retire if the Giants achieve the feat.


"The more you go on and the older you get you realise time's starting to run out, and the one reason we all play football is to play in a premiership. Especially once you get to 300 games. It's something I really want to achieve and there's no doubt that every player at this football club really wants to do that as well."

The 34-year-old may not be overly fond of the limelight - he stressed to the Giants media team that he wanted a low-key press conference for his major milestone game - but there will be no escaping the adulation for a player who has had as much of an impact on the tangible culture of strength at the Giants as any other.

That was evident as his teammates gathered around in impromptu fashion as Ward addressed the media, wearing special 300 game boots with his children's names on them, and then gave him a round of applause.


This was, after all, the player who helped set it all in motion at GWS, the major acquisition along with Phil Davis for season one at the club after 60 games with the Western Bulldogs.

"I was a lot different back then that's for sure," said Ward as he reflected on his journey with the Giants after signing on as a 21-year-old.

"A lot more shy, a lot quieter, a lot less confident. A guy who questioned himself and was a lot more naïve.”

"Pride, happiness, it's been a big journey," he said.

"I'm just really excited to play. The last 17 years there's been plenty of ups and downs. It's been a journey I've really enjoyed and I just can't wait to get out there and play against Essendon," added Ward, who supported the Bombers as a child and still has a sister working for the club.

Callan Ward in action at Greater Western Sydney training on April 18, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"I thought it would be similar to the 150, 200, 250 milestone, but this one does feel a bit bigger. I've got plenty of messages from people from other football clubs and it's been really exciting so far this week."

While he still more than holds his own in the department, Ward was once the leading man in the clinches of the Giants' midfield, but has now passed that baton on to Tom Green alongside Stephen Coniglio.

And both engine room stars are set to play in Ward's landmark game, and that of Sam Taylor in game number 100 for the star defender.

Coniglio is a certainty to feature after training fully following three weeks out with a knee problem.

Tom Green and Stephen Coniglio during the preliminary final between Collingwood and Greater Western Sydney at the MCG, September 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Green left Thursday's session early after being subbed out of the derby defeat to the Swans with an ankle injury, but he's more likely than not to be fit for the Bombers.

"Yeah, I expect he will. He had a light run today, he got through no problems from my assessment. We’ll see how he pulls up this afternoon and tomorrow morning, but I expect he plays," coach Adam Kingsley said.

The quest of returning to winning ways against the Bombers is the next challenge for the Giants in pursuit of a top four place at seasons end and then, ultimately, a first ever flag.

But Ward has admitted he didn't think he would be in this position, conceding he couldn't foresee the 300-game milestone arriving once he hit the 250-game mark.

"I really wasn't enjoying my football once I got to 250. I wasn’t playing good football, we were losing games, it was really hard, I was pondering retirement. I just didn’t think I could play another 50 to be honest.


"The coaching group, once they came over at the start of last year, really instilled some confidence in me into playing a certain role. That’s the same as everyone here, we've got real clarity on our role and there’s a big system we can all play in."

That setup may just lead to an inaugural Giants premiership this season. That's the only accolade Ward clearly hankers for as he reflects rather harshly on his career which has garnered three All-Australian squads but no final team selections.

"I haven't been hard done by. I do think about it sometimes. People talk about it as well. I probably haven’t achieved too much in 300 games to be honest. I haven't got an All-Australian, only one best and fairest, no premierships. There's not too much on the CV there, so there's definitely things I'd like to achieve."

That is a career synopsis not many in the game will agree with, the least of which is his coach.

Callan Ward greets young Giants fans during a training session at Vailo Community Centre on March 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"What a wonderful player he's been. As an opposition coach he was hugely respected and then you come into the club and meet the man and realise the influence that he has over everyone at the club," Kingsley said.

"He and the leaders, we all have to be on the same page. When I came into the club, I was really leaning heavily on those guys to sell the same message and change the things we wanted to change and keep the things we wanted to keep, and he played a pivotal role in that and continues to," Kingsley added.

Ward won’t want to ponder the prospect of leaving the Giants without a premiership and there’s every chance he won’t have to.

But regardless of what transpires this season or next, the place he holds in the heart of the Giants and vice versa, is clear.

"It's huge, I owe so much to this football club. I'll be forever indebted to this football club for getting me up here in the first place and being interested. To be here for almost half my life really, they've seen me grow from a boy to a man," he said.