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"I want to play for as long as I can"

At 35 years and 46 days old, Shaun Burgoyne is set to head into 2018 as the oldest player in the league.

It is a tag he doesn’t shy away from, however, with the veteran Hawk happy to have a laugh over his newest accolade.

“It is what it is, someone’s got to do it.

“It brings a smile to my face, and the boys certainly don’t let me forget that I’m the oldest in the league. 

“My kids have let me know a few times too,” Burgoyne joked.

The four-time premiership player is the league’s lone representative from the 2000 draft, with each of his fellow draftees (including No.1 draft pick Nick Riewoldt) having since moved on from the game. 

Often likened to a ‘fine wine’, Burgoyne enjoyed one of his best sporting years in 2017, culminating in his selection and victory as Australian IRS captain, in what he describes as a “humbling experience”.

But, heading into his 18th AFL pre-season, Burgoyne says training isn’t getting any easier as the years go on. 

“It definitely gets harder each year.

“There’s a bit more wear and tear in the body, and mentally it gets a bit harder trying to get up every day and go to team meetings and everything. 

“But generally you just rock up, and you feed off the young guys’ enthusiasm and energy. 

“Particularly coming away on camp, it’s the first time some of the guys have been away from Melbourne, so you feed off their excitement and it definitely lifts your spirits.”

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Despite the team meetings, the intense training sessions and the early morning wake ups, Burgoyne’s passion for the game has never wavered. 

“I love football,” he said. 

“I want to play football as long as I can.”

“It’s a tough sport, there’s no hiding from that. It’s brutally tough physically and mentally, but you just have to knuckle down, get through pre-season, and then the fun part starts. 

“As long as you’re enjoying your footy, then you’ll do whatever it takes to play.”

So, can we expect to see Hawthorn’s No.9 running around for years to come? 

“Let’s just get through this pre-season first,” Burgoyne laughed.

“We’ll see how the body goes, and whether I’m still getting a kick.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs