«Dylan and I are quite good mates, we stay in regular chat. There’ll be a bit more in it, which is always good, it’s always healthy. I look forward to shaking his hand after the game when we’ve got the four points in hand,» de Boer said.
«We know him quite intimately obviously but we’ll focus on our game plan and he will have to worry about us, I would have thought. We know how he and Essendon play after doing our due diligence on them.
«We expect them to bring a red hot contested game right from the get go. We’re confident that if we execute what we have been working on, then we’ll take home the W.»
For two hours friendships will be thrown out the window in pursuit of four premiership points — and outspoken former Giant Devon Smith has already fired the first shot with a subtle dig at GWS.
«Poor Dyl, he wanted a blockbuster crowd and he’s got the Giants up there on a Sunday arvo in the graveyard,» Smith said of Shiel’s looming Bombers debut.
Giants coach Leon Cameron is banking on the Bombers clash to deliver their biggest non-derby crowd in history but the hosts will be without some serious star power for the Shiel showdown.
The Giants will be without Josh Kelly (recovering from knee and hip surgery) and Callan Ward (knee) for their season opener with the club’s relentless injury curse showing no signs of fading away.
The absence of two club leaders puts the onus on de Boer, co-captain Phil Davis and Stephen Coniglio to help GWS’ developing list into a new season.
«It’s a crucial role but it has been somewhat easy because of the great work Phil Davis and Callan Ward have done over a sustained period now,» de Boer said.
«Our culture is really thriving, and when we get new players we make it clear to them what is expected of them to be a GWS Giant. They get to work from there. There are daily and weekly feedback loops we’ve got embedded.
«In the leadership group we’ve got to make sure they’re on the right track and we’re really confident with our induction of new players and the team at large. We’re looking forward to delivering on game day.
«It’s been a good pre-season, we’ve had a healthy list for the majority. We’ve got Cal still to come back, but aside from that it has been a really productive pre-season.
«We’ve had a few tweaks to the game plan, just building on things we already know and do well. The boys are fit and firing, we’re looking forward to round one.»
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times