By Beth Newman
Former Mt Gravatt and UQ player, Ben Hudson, is living the dream at Collingwood.
The 35 year-old cuts a relaxed figure these days, sporting an impressive beard that earned him cult figure status in recent years, but will play a pivotal role both on and off the field for the Magpies this year.
At his fourth AFL club, the Collingwood ruckman is enjoying taking a back seat and having the pressure off.
Also in a coaching role with the club, Hudson provides key support to developing rucks in Brodie Grundy and Jarrod Witts, and coaching as well and the 35 year-old said he was relishing his position.
“It’s a unique role,” he said.
“I’ll look after the young ruckmen and if they need me to play I’ll play, but Brodes and Wittsy will definitely take the lion’s share of the football side of it.”
Hudson joined the Pies as a mature-age rookie in 2012 after coming out of retirement for the second time, following stints at the Adelaide Crows, Western Bulldogs and the Brisbane Lions.
The 199cm tall played seven games for the Magpies last season, with 10 games in the VFL side, and has shown solid form in the VFL side’s practice matches in recent weeks.
Now closing in on a decade in the AFL system, Hudson said he couldn’t be happier.
“I’m 35 and still playing footy, so I’m pretty excited,” he said.
“Collingwood is the biggest footy club in Australia and (my time in footy) has gone pretty quickly.”
Hudson joined the game later than most, playing his first game at UQ in 2000, before heading to Mt Gravatt in 2001.
He made an impact immediately for the Vultures, winning their 2001 best and fairest and was a member of the 2002 premiership side, before Adelaide drafted him at pick 58 in the 2003 National Draft.
On the Gold Coast for a pre-season camp last month, Hudson said it was great to be back in his home state.
“It’s always good to come back to the nice weather,” he said.