A frenzied race to the AFL finals will take a back seat this week as the league’s focus turns to Brent Harvey’s incredible milestone.
North Melbourne icon Harvey will play a staggering 427th AFL match on Saturday, when his side face St Kilda at Etihad Stadium.
The match will go a long way to deciding who finishes eighth on the ladder, where the Kangaroos sit two games clear of the Saints.
But the finals picture, which will also become more clear when Geelong host Western Bulldogs in a blockbuster on Friday night, will be overshadowed by Harvey during the build-up.
The 38-year-old will break Michael Tuck’s VFL/AFL games record, a mark that has stood since 1991 and never looked like being bettered until this year.
“He’s been an absolute superstar of the game for such a long time. It’s been an incredible effort,” Saints coach Alan Richardson said.
“We want to respect that by playing really strong footy … I presume at the end of the game our blokes will do the right thing.”
But Richardson said the occasion wouldn’t be on the mind of any of his players when the ball is bounced.
“Our focus is going to be on winning a game of footy … for 120 minutes it’ll be game on and he’ll be just another player,” he said.
North shored up their place in the top eight with a 40-point win over Collingwood on Friday night.
But it was followed a day later by St Kilda’s equally impressive triumph over the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs, who finished with one fit man on the bench following injuries to Mitch Wallis, Jack Redpath and Dale Morris, will have their premiership credentials tested by Geelong.
The Cats returned to the top four with a 30-point dismissal of in-form Adelaide on Saturday, while they will also be celebrating two milestones in round 19.
Jimmy Bartel will play his 300th match, while Corey Enright will break the club’s games record when he features in his 326th.
“It’s probably more exciting that I do get to share the game with Boris (Enright). He’s been an absolute legend of the club,” Bartel told the Seven Network.
“Our club is 157 years old. There’s been over 1000 players and this guy will stand alone as the games record holder.”
The milestones are set to continue when Fremantle legend Matthew Pavlich plays his 350th match on Sunday in the clash with Sydney.
The Dockers suffered a 24-point loss to Gold Coast on Saturday, when Sydney and West Coast posted six-point wins over Carlton and Melbourne, respectively.
Brisbane relieved the pressure on under-siege coach Justin Leppitsch on Sunday with a 37-point win over Essendon in what was likely to be the battle for the wooden spoon.