David Wirrpanda

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David Wirrpanda
David Wirrpanda, 2005 AFL Grand Final parade.jpg
Personal information
Full name David Selwyn Burralung
Merringwuy Galarrwuy
Wyal Wirrpanda[1]
Nickname(s) "Wirra"
Date of birth (1979-08-03) 3 August 1979 (age 34)
Place of birth Carlton, Victoria, Australia
Original team Healesville (YVMDFL)
Height/Weight 173 cm / 82 kg
Position(s) Defender, forward
Playing career
Years Club Games (Goals)
East Perth
West Coast
28 (30)
227 (131)
International team honours
Years Team Games (Goals)
2003 Australia 2 (0)
Career highlights

David Selwyn Burralung Merringwuy Galarrwuy Wyal Wirrpanda (/ˈwɪr(ə)pʌndə/ wirr-ə-PUN-də; born 3 August 1979) is a former Australian rules footballer, best known for his career with the West Coast Eagles in the Australian Football League (AFL). Born in Melbourne, Wirrpanda was raised in Shepparton, Victoria, and later attended Worawa Aboriginal College in Healesville, which had been established by his mother's family. He began his football career with a local team, and subsequently progressed to the Eastern Ranges team in the under-18 TAC Cup. Selected by West Coast during the 1995 draft period, Wirrpanda made his debut for the club during the following season. Having played his first game for West Coast at the age of 16 years and 268 days, he remains the youngest player to have played a senior game for the club.

Limited by injuries in his first few seasons, Wirrpanda did not establish himself as a regular player until the early 2000s, usually playing out of a back pocket or across a half-back flank. Outstanding form in these positions led to his selection in the 2005 All-Australian team, and the following season he was a member of the West Coast premiership side that defeated Sydney in the 2006 grand final. Often playing as a small forward towards the end of his career, Wirrpanda retired at the end of the 2009 season, finishing with 227 games for the club. Since the conclusion of his playing career, he has involved himself in charity work, including the establishment of the David Wirrpanda Foundation, an organisation supporting Indigenous Australians. Wirrpanda has also expressed a desire to enter politics, and unsucessfully contested 2013 federal election as the National Party's candidate for the Senate in Western Australia.

Football career[edit]

Wirrpanda starred for Eastern Ranges in the TAC Cup during 1995, and was scouted by West Coast Eagles recruiters and brought to Perth by longtime Eagles CEO Trevor Nisbett.[2]

Wirrpanda made his debut with West Coast in Round 5 of the 1996 AFL Season, at the age of 16 years, 268 days, and remains the Eagles' youngest ever debutant. Unfortunately, injuries and fluctuating form hurt him early in his career, and he managed only 12 of a possible 71 AFL games (including finals) in his first 3 seasons. During these early years, he also played 25 games for East Perth in the WAFL.

By the mid-2000s, Wirrpanda's career started to get on track, and he became a consistent contributor for the Eagles, playing mainly as a small defender in the back pocket or half back flank. After a solid year in 2004, he had a stellar 2005 season in which he won selection in the All-Australian team, his trademark clearances from defence being a vital part of the Eagles' success that year. He continued to do well in 2006, marking his 150th AFL game with a great performance.[citation needed]

Wirrpanda nearly missed out on the 2006 AFL Grand Final through injury, but came back to take his place in the side. He came in at the expense of Jaymie Graham, who had played every game of that season up until then, and out of respect for his younger teammate, Wirrpanda played in the match with Graham's #22 written on his hand.[citation needed]

In 2007 and 2008, Wirrpanda has shared time between his usual backline post and pinch-hitting up forward for his team, using his excellent footskills to both set up play and score some crucial goals for the Eagles in the process.

In 2008, Wirrpanda was met solidly by Geelong's Gary Ablett in a match at Skilled Stadium. The incident sparked some debate among the football media and fans alike, as although photographs revealed head high contact was made during the bump, Wirrpanda had also slid to the ground, assuring that Ablett had upheld his duty of care as best he could when bumping an opposition player, and therefore not resulting in a suspension for the incident.[3]

At the conclusion of Round 22, 2009, he had played in 227 of a possible 327 matches for the Eagles (including finals), and has scored 131 goals, averaging 16.6 disposals for his career.

In September 2009, Wirrpanda announced his retirement citing he may be standing in the way of another younger playing being fast tracked within the club. After the birth of his son, Wirrpanda also expressed his desire to move on citing his fatherhood is the most important aspect of his life, but also spending more time with the foundation that bears his name.

Wirrpanda has also announced his wishes to remain part of the West Coast Eagles, saying that he may one day serve on the board.[4]

Personal life[edit]

For most of his career, Wirrpanda has been known as "Wirrpunda", but in 2005 it was pointed out that his actual birth name was Wirrpanda. In the West Australian before the 2006 season Wirrpanda said that he had allowed his name to be misspelled to ensure it was pronounced correctly.

Wirrpanda is also known for his community work in helping to improve the lives of young Indigenous Australians, first and foremost through The David Wirrpanda Foundation, which he launched in 2005.

He was named the 9th most influential Aboriginal Australian by The Bulletin magazine in 2007[5] and 2008. He also received the 2009 award for Young Western Australian of the Year.[6]

He and model Shannon McGuire have a son together, Marley, born in August 2009, which caused him to miss West Coast's Round 22 match against Richmond that was played the previous evening.[7]

He hosts a Saturday morning radio show called "Dead Set Legends" in Perth on MIX 94.5.[citation needed]

In 2010, Wirrpanda participated in the tenth season of Dancing with the Stars, partnering with Liza van Pelt.[8] However, in the competition's eighth round, he unexpectedly withdrew to concentrate on his foundation, becoming the first contestant to quit in the show's history.[9][10]


  1. ^ Gleeson, Michael (2005). "David Selwyn Burralung Merringwuy Galarrwuy Wyal WIRRPANDA – and don't you forget it"The Age. Published 24 September 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  2. ^ AFL Record. Round 9, 2009. Slattery Publishing. pg 75.
  3. ^ Never iron out the shirt-front by Campbell Brown for The Age. 13 April 2008
  4. ^ http://www.westcoasteagles.com.au/news/newsarticle/tabid/7155/newsid/83988/default.aspx
  5. ^ Wirrpanda recognised for work 30 November 2007, AFL BigPond Network
  6. ^ Australian of the Year Award 2009 National Australia Day Council
  7. ^ David Wirrpanda, Shannon McGuire have a baby son
  8. ^ "West Coast Eagle David Wirrpanda joins Dancing With The Stars"PerthNow. Published 18 May 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  9. ^ Pepper, Daile (2010). "Nice guy Wirra's shock exit" – WAToday. Published 16 August 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013.
  10. ^ Byrne, Fiona (2010). Dancing too much for David Wirrpanda"Herald Sun. Published 17 August 2010. Retrieved 18 June 2013.

External links[edit]