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Duryea reaches 50 games

Duryea happy to reach 50 games Taylor Duryea speaks to HawksTV ahead of his 50th AFL game.
Taylor Duryea of the Hawks in action during the 2015 AFL Round 04 ANZAC Day match between Port Adelaide Power and the Hawthorn Hawks at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide on April 25, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Taylor Duryea, pictured in action earlier this season, will play his 50th AFL game on Sunday.

WITH two strong seasons of AFL football to his name, Hawthorn’s Taylor Duryea will reach his 50-game milestone against St Kilda on Sunday in arguably career-best form.

Recruited with pick 69 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft, the premiership defender served a lengthy apprenticeship in the VFL with the Box Hill Hawks, before making his debut in Round 3 of 2013.

Duryea played a further 17 matches that year, before establishing himself as a regular member of the reigning premier’s line-up last season, playing 23 of 25 matches, including the club’s second consecutive grand final triumph.

The 24-year-old told he was excited to be bringing up the milestone this weekend, but is hoping it’s just the start of his career in brown and gold.

“I’m pretty pumped,” Duryea said.

“I guess 50 games isn’t much of a milestone in the grand scheme of things, but its one of those little things that you can sort of look back on and say, you know I’ve contributed 50 games to the club.

“It’s a little milestone and hopefully I can build on it.”

The small defender has played eight of nine matches this season, relishing the opportunity to spend more time up the ground.

As a result he’s finding more of the ball, averaging almost 20 disposals per game, including a career-high 29 touches against the Western Bulldogs in Round 3.

“It’s been a relatively good start to the year,” Duryea said.

“I’ve found myself a little bit higher up the ground at times, getting a little bit more of the ball, so it’s been good in that sense that I haven’t been as much locked down.

“As long as I’m in the team I’m pretty happy.”

The Hawks are yet to win back-to-back games this season, but Duryea is confident that won’t be the case for too much longer.

“I think we’re building quite nicely,” he said.

“We’d like to obviously work our way up the ladder with some consecutive wins and some good form, but (I’m) not too worried about how we’re going.

“The results haven’t quite gone our way but our performances have been relatively solid, except for a couple of lapses in games that have inevitably cost us wins.”

In the space of less than two years, Duryea went from making his debut in front of more than 70,000 people against Collingwood, to featuring on the last day of September in front of a capacity crowd at the MCG.

Both are career highlights – the premiership win a “dream come true” and the first game one of, if not the “most enjoyable” he’s played.

Rising to big occasions hasn’t been an issue for the up-and-coming Hawk, something he attributes to years of development and some good mentors.

“It’s backing yourself,” Duryea said.

“For me I had an apprenticeship at VFL (level) – I played about 50 games there as well, so coming into the team I knew what I had to do.”

As mentors go, Duryea said experienced teammate Sam Mitchell has been a big influence.

“He sees the game as well as anyone, he’s a really, really smart man,” he said.

“He’s obviously skilful, but just the way he approaches his footy I think he and I connect in that.

“He’s a bit of a thinker and so am I – sometimes I think too much – but his approach has definitely helped me.”

There’s a long way to go for Duryea to catch Mitchell – who will play game 270 this week – and he is focusing on doing everything he can week by week to better himself and the club.

“Obviously we want to win enough games to get ourselves into the top four and from there who knows,” he said.

“Finals is obviously a key for us, so (playing) good football until the back end of the year and we’ll see what happens.

“Career-wise I don’t like to look too far ahead.

“I just want to build my career at Hawthorn, hopefully continue on with my form and personally get better as the team does.”