Born: 29 July 1982
Junior Club: Labrador
Senior Club: Labrador
School: Helensvale Primary, Helensvale SHS
Queensland: U16 (1998), U18 (2000)
Draft Details: Selection #11 2001 AFL Rookie Draft
Mid-Season Rookie Elevations 2001, 2002 and 2003
AFL Debut: Hawthorn v Adelaide, AAMI Stadium, Rd 21, 2001, (26 August)
Jumper Number: 7
AT A GLANCE: A hard-nosed utility player who has proved the value of sheer persistence in football to earn a place in a very exclusive club – the Queensland AFL Premiership Club. Originally from Victoria but a product of Gold Coast club Labrador, he was a standout Queensland junior. In 1998 he represented Queensland at U16 level, winning the McLean Medal for the best & fairest player in division two at the Australian Championships – an award won by Brady Rawlings in ’97 and later by Richard Cole (1999), Adam Schneider (2000), Jarrad McVeigh and Raphael Clarke (2001), Richard Tambling (2002) and Daniel Dzufer (2004).
In ’99 he was a member of the AIS/AFL Academy squad which included Shaun Burgoyne, Leigh Brown, Josh Fraser, Brent Guerra, Ryan Houlihan, Kayne Pettifer and Joel Corey. And in 2000 he represented Queensland at U18 level before being overlooked at the AFL National Draft. Instead of accepting a guaranteed rookie list spot with the Brisbane Lions he moved to Melbourne, trained over the summer with Hawthorn, and was elated when chosen by the Hawks in the rookie draft. He received a late call-up to make his AFL debut in round 21 that year, finding out he was a late inclusion in the top side as he boarded the team bus at the hotel on route to the ground. He followed up with his second game a week later before sharing a VFL premiership with Box Hill.
In an injury-disrupted 2002 he came off the rookie list again to play one game in round 10 but it wasn’t until his third rookie year that he consolidated himself, earning one last list elevation in March after the de-listing of Glen Bowyer. He made the most of his opportunity, playing 19 senior games in ’03, finishing 10th place in a B&F and being judged ‘Most Improved Player’. He also won the AFL Rising Star nomination for round 6. He added 17 senior games in ’04 and 19 in ’05, when he was voted ‘Defensive Pursuits Player of the Year’ but after playing the first four games of ’06 he was struck by a recurring foot stress fracture and didn’t play again that year.
A hard-at-it utility player, just as comfortable in a small defensive role as he is as a small forward or even a run-with midfielder, he played 12 of the first 13 games in ’07 before a back spasm which followed a heavy knock against Collingwood saw him suffer internal bleeding. He spent an extended spell on the sideline but after just one game in the VFL he did exceptionally well to fight his way back and play in the Hawks’ two finals games – his finals debut. But that was just the beginning. In 2008 he stepped up to become an outstanding AFL player and a key member of the Hawks’ premiership side. In the grand final, playing more on the wing than in his customary spot at half forward, he collected 26 possessions – the equal of Norm Smith Medalist Luke Hodge and bettered only by Xavier Ellis (28) in the Hawthorn side. He also eight marks and three tackles to join teammate Brent Renouf in becoming the 12th and 13th Queenslanders to taste AFL premiership success.
In total, he played 23 games and kicked 27 goals to finish fifth in the Hawks’ B&F, and was the sole Queenslander chosen in the Australian side for the International Rules series against Ireland. He posted his 100th AFL game in Round 1 of 2010, when the Hawks lost a replay of the grand final to Geelong by eight points. As it was for most of his Hawthorn teammates, season 2009 didn’t quite live up to the lofty heights of ’08 but he remained a most formidable AFL contributor.