There was a time when veteran Sydney defender Heath Grundy had to fight tooth and nail for every one of his AFL appearances.
Back in 2005, he ground his way into the Swans’ senior side from the rookie draft, having been yanked from obscurity by then-coach Paul Roos.
He then had to wait until the following year to make his debut, before being called up for just 24 games over the next three seasons.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Roos shifted Grundy from his forward position into defence, where he prospered into a backline mainstay, playing a key part in the Swans’ 2012 premiership trophy and remaining an experienced face on John Longmire’s list today.
Now readying for his 200th match on Sunday against Melbourne – and former mentor Roos – the hard-working 30-year-old can’t remember exactly when he realised he belonged among the best.
Only that he feels it now.
“There wasn’t a specific moment I guess,” Grundy said.
“I had a bit of a slower start to my career where I was in and out of the side for a couple of years.
“We had a few (defensive) retirements with Craig Bolton and Leo Barry and guys like that, so I slipped down into defence and that fit my mould really well.
“I suppose since I went back I felt really settled, that was something that probably turned for me and I could play some consistent footy throughout the seasons.”
Grundy feels indebted to Roos for giving him his break, believing a double-century would have been impossible if not for the 52-year-old.
But it won’t stop him doing his best to dismantle the Demons at the SCG, as the Swans attempt to consolidate their top-four spot following last weekend’s 42-point loss to Greater Western Sydney.
Grundy’s job will be matching up with integral forwards Jesse Hogan and Chris Dawes.
“They’re both pretty good players,” he said.
“Jesse Hogan has been playing really well, he’s got good hands and he’s good in the air.
“Dawesy is a lead-up type, a really strong player.
“We will have our work cut out.”