Brent Harvey’s flag-winning teammate of years past, Mick Martyn, isn’t surprised the little forward is yet to hang up the boots.
And if you told him in 1999 that ‘Boomer’ would go on to break the AFL’s all-time games record this weekend, he would have nodded along.
Martyn said it was quickly apparent to him the skinny teenager drafted to North Melbourne in the 1995 draft had a studious nature and a ferocious work ethic.
“He came into a good team and did all the disciplined things,” Martyn told AAP.
“He’d go into the gym and work hard. Pound for pound he was one of the strongest at the club.
“He had all these attributes and he learned a lot from a team at the time that was on top.”
Martyn, now 47, is also pulling on a guernsey at a late age.
But Harvey isn’t the inspiration.
It’s prostate cancer research, the cause behind the EJ Whitten match to take place on September 2.
He’ll line up in the Victorian back line, which will be kept busy by a string of All-Australian forwards to turn out for the All Stars; Cam Mooney, Matthew Richardson, Nick Holland, Scott Cummings and another of his 1999 premiership team-mates, Wayne Carey.
Martyn said he had fond memories of his last encounter with his premiership captain in the charity match.
“We lined up together. I bowled him over the boundary line and he didn’t take too kindly to that,” he laughed.
“He’s always been about 10 kilos lighter than me and I was about 20 kilos heavier then.”
The pre-match training has begun, including a self-imposed beer ban to shift a few kilos before the date.
And he said there’d be a spot waiting in the Victorian side when Boomer decides playing 22 matches a season is 21 too many.
“They say that when you finish playing footy you shouldn’t go back … but I’m always a fan of the E.J. Whitten game,” he said.
“You’ve got the next month to recover.”