North Melbourne veteran Brent Harvey is on track to claim the all-time VFL/AFL games-played record after signing a new one-year deal with the club for 2016.
The Kangaroos announced on Thursday Harvey’s decorated career would extend into a 21st season, with fellow veteran Drew Petrie also finalising a new one-year deal.
Harvey, 37, has played 403 matches and will move to outright second on the all-time list against Fremantle on Sunday and, in the process, overtake Richmond legend Kevin Bartlett.
Only Hawthorn great Michael Tuck (426) has played more games.
Essendon’s Dustin Fletcher, who is in his 23rd season, is the only player to have enjoyed a longer VFL/AFL career.
“I think my footy’s holding up enough to warrant another year and, obviously, the footy club thought the same,” Harvey said.
“It’s good going into the last few games knowing that I’m contracted but it wasn’t a huge weight on my shoulders.”
Harvey isn’t approaching next season as his last and won’t rule out attempting to extend into a 22nd campaign if his mind, body and form stay sound.
The midfielder has shown remarkable durability over the course of his career, which has him well placed to overtake Tuck’s mark, but it’s not an accolade that he covets.
“I don’t play an individual sport – I’m here for one reason and one reason only (to win a flag),” he said.
“I’ve got two cracks at it now. I probably would have hung up the boots if I didn’t believe this club could go to the pinnacle and win a premiership.”
Harvey’s path to a new deal hasn’t been smooth, with coach Brad Scott demanding the veteran show him he can adapt to new roles before giving his approval to continue.
The five-time best-and-fairest winner denied their was any substance to speculation he had considered a move to another club if he hadn’t been given the green light to go on at Arden Street.
Petrie will turn 33 before the start of the 2016 season and, with 287 games to his name, is a good chance to reach his 300-game milestone.
“It’s the latest I’ve ever signed a contract but I was never worried – I knew that my form had been ok and was good enough to warrant another (season),” Petrie said.
“They were never going to sign me mid-year; it was never going to be a big negotiation; it was more if the club saw a spot for me in 2016, then I was always just going to be happy to sign the contract straight away.
“My form early was a bit ordinary but it was nothing I couldn’t change – it was nothing to do with getting slower or not being able to move like I used to.”
SOME OF HARVEY’S ACHIEVEMENTS:
* VFL premiership 1996
* NAB Cup 1998
* AFL premiership 1999
* All-Australian: 2000, 2005, 2007, 2008
* Syd Barker Medal: 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010
* North Melbourne FC Team of the Century