As he prepares to become the first West Coast Eagle to reach the 300-game milestone, evergreen veteran Shannon Hurn says he is still finding motivation from the chase for more team success.
Described as a ‘legacy’ player by coach Adam Simpson, the 2018 premiership skipper has forged a remarkable career in the west since being drafted from Central District via pick No.13 in 2005.
Ageing like a fine wine from the Barossa Valley region he hails from, Hurn continues to get the absolute most from his body and career, with his professionalism and elite preparation playing a major part in his longevity and setting a standard for others to follow.
“I feel quite proud and honoured to be able to get to 300 games,” the 33-year-old said on Monday.
“To be in the AFL for so long, I’ve been really fortunate enough to be at West Coast, which has been a great club.
“I’ve been talking – because a couple of the younger boys have been talking about it and being trying not to jinx it (the milestone) – but I still remember coming to the club when I was in my first year and Drew Banfield had played 240, 250 games.
“I just thought that’s a heap of games and I just wanted to play a couple of games.
“Then when you get older you understand it’s just about trying to get the best out of yourself and trying to contribute to the group.
“Numerous different feelings but just fortunate enough to be in the system so long.”
Hurn, who turns 34 in September, surpassed Dean Cox as the club’s games record holder earlier this season and is showing no signs of slowing down.
On Saturday against Collingwood at the MCG he will achieve a landmark that has eluded many great players from the west, partly due to the demands of regular cross-country travel.
“One of the things with the travel is we’ve always had a very good pre-season, so we’ve always tend to do a lot of work in there, and then during the year is more about recovery,” Hurn said.
“I’ve had (strength and conditioning coach) Warren Kofoed for 10 years probably now and I think he does it quite well, and then it’s just up to the individual to take ownership of what they need to do.
“Fortunate enough to have good people in the club and personally I’ve had a bit of luck that I haven’t had too many long-term injuries.”
Taking ownership of your career has been a message Hurn has tried to pass on with the younger Eagles after being inspired by Brownlow medallist and close mate Matt Priddis’ determination to make every moment count.
“To still have team success and also get the best out of yourself (motivates me),” Hurn said.
“That’s the biggest thing I think. Sometimes you can just go through your football career hoping it will get better and just thinking with time that will naturally happen.
“As you get a little bit older you can’t physically do what you used to be able to do, so it’s more about the quality you have and also the mental aspect of the game.
“Understanding the opposition, your body, how to manipulate things.
“That’s probably where I am at the moment, is enjoying everything I can and trying to get the best out of myself and help the team.”
“I feel quite proud and honoured to get to 300 games. I’ve been really fortunate to be at West Coast. I still remember coming into the club. When you’re young you want to play AFL, when you’re older you just want to get the best out of yourself and give back to the group.” pic.twitter.com/5bIE6TZX0L— West Coast Eagles (@WestCoastEagles) July 26, 2021
With plenty to still to play for in 2021, thoughts of extending his career into next season or what comes next after football are well and truly pushed to the back of Hurn’s mind.
However, the Angaston product could one day return to the family farm, and might move into coaching when he hangs up the boots, but before that he is hopeful of playing on for a 17th campaign.
“Yes, I do (want to play on). I’m enjoying playing footy, the body is going pretty well. We’ll just have to wait and see but the club has been pretty positive in that regard going forward,” Hurn said.
“The club has always been great, especially when you get more towards the back end of your career about that open negotiation.
“But (CEO) Trevor Nisbett has been great, so I’ve been able to have a chat to him and it’s one of those things we’ll keep seeing how the year progresses.
“But at the moment it’s positive, which is great.”