Injury-prone Port Adelaide midfielder Hamish Hartlett has revealed he never thought he’d play 100 AFL games.
Hartlett, who reaches his milestone match against Western Bulldogs on Saturday, feared injuries would ruin him early in his career.
“It probably dawned on me a couple of times that maybe I physically can’t stand AFL football … it ran through my mind a couple of times,” Hartlett told reporters on Wednesday.
Hartlett, who made his debut in 2009, noted some players in his draft year were nearing 150 games.
“I’ve had three shoulder reconstructions. I would have had probably seven or eight different hamstring strains or tears. I tore my quad three times in a row in my second year, glandular fever … they are the ones off the top of my head,” he said.
“But then there’s little things that keep you out for a week or two and a few silly suspensions and they all add up.”
Hartlett’s early injury woes coincided with bleak years for Port Adelaide, who missed the finals for five seasons in a row before Ken Hinkley’s 2013 rejuvenation.
And the 24-year-old says looking back, he’s not surprised Port were easybeats.
“You realise how far away from it you really were as a professional athlete,” Hartlett said.
“As a group, as a whole, there are certainly things we are doing now that are significantly different to what we were doing back then.
“You look back and think `yeah, we were probably getting what we deserved’ because we were that far away from being a professional group.
“And individually I was miles away from being a professional footballer.
“I have certainly tidied up a lot of things on the field and off the field between then and now and things are clearly looking up.”