Past master: Former Sydney Swan Jude Bolton is now an ambassador for the AFL 9s. Photo: Melissa Adams
Even in retirement there's no questioning Jude Bolton's commitment to the Sydney Swans, but he's still excited about watching Greater Western Sydney ruckman Shane Mumford throw his weight around against his old club in Saturday's Battle of the Bridge.
Bolton called time on a distinguished 325-game career, which included two AFL premierships, at the end of last year.
The preliminary final loss to Fremantle was both his and Mumford's last game for the Swans, with Mumford moving to their cross-town rivals for the upcoming season after Sydney swooped on gun forward Lance "Buddy" Franklin.
And Mumford will face his old club in round one at the Sydney Showgrounds, now known as Spotless Stadium, on Saturday night.
The Giants brought the former Swan and Geelong ruckman to western Sydney so he could use his big body to protect their developing young midfielders.
And Bolton was relishing the chance to watch it – even if it comes at the expense of his former teammates.
"That's what I want to get out there and see," said Bolton, who was in Canberra on Wednesday to play AFL 9s at Dickson.
"I think there'll be a bit of lip and niggle from Mummy, that's the way he plays his footy.
"I loved playing alongside him when he was like that, he's playing well, the big man."
While the Giants got the consolation prize of Mumford, the Swans got the big one.
Franklin's $10 million, nine-year deal sent shockwaves through the AFL, with everyone assuming he was bound for GWS.
Bolton was expecting Franklin's addition to make the Swans "extremely tough to beat", with their new signing to hit the ground running.
And he confirmed the arrival of Franklin was as big a shock to the Swans players as it was to the football world.
Teammate Jarrad McVeigh was the only player Swans chief executive Andrew Ireland told, as he sought McVeigh's opinion on whether to sign Franklin or not.
Bolton said he had heard rumours not long after their 2012 premiership triumph against Hawthorn, but nothing after that.
"I had no idea [Franklin was coming]," he said.
"We'd heard a whisper of it early on after the 2012 grand final that his management team was checking the interest, but there was nothing from there on."
He felt the competitiveness between the clubs off the field to recruit players added to a rivalry he felt was starting to build and develop some genuine "tension" between the two clubs on it.
And he said it wouldn't be long before that "hatred" started to boil in a close, hard-fought contest.
At the moment, the Giants have only beaten the Swans once – in a pre-season trial.
"Obviously Buddy going to the Swans and not GWS was a big sticking point," Bolton said.
"It's starting to get that tension ... I dare say there'll be a bit of niggle.
"Everyone's always raring to go round one.
"You want to get off to a good start ... we've seen with the Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC how quickly a real genuine rivalry and hatred of each other [can develop] in terms of fans."