Chad Wingard exploded onto the football landscape, quickly making a name for himself as an x-factor across the last decade.

The 28-year-old boasts a first-class highlights package to match his 200-game milestone when Hawthorn takes on Richmond this Saturday.

The achievement follows 10 years at AFL level, which includes 147 games at Port Adelaide and 52 at Hawthorn.  

Match preview: Hawks set sights on the Tigers

Now in his fourth year in the brown and gold, the excitement machine continues to provide an important spark in Sam Mitchell’s team.

Reflecting on his career to date, Wingard said he never imagined reaching such milestone.

“I remember my first pre-season, I probably didn’t think I was going to play any games,” Wingard said.

“It was such a change to my lifestyle and it kind of shocked me how hard it is to play just one AFL game.

“But to play 200 is very special, and every game that I play for Hawthorn is such an honour.”

Wingard began his AFL career with Port Adelaide after the Power selected him with Pick 6 in the 2011 National Draft.

He made his debut in the first round of 2012, and later that year earned a Rising Star nomination after a 27-disposal performance in Round 22.

In 2013 he was named in the All Australian team, making him the youngest player to receive the recognition since Mark Ricciuto in 1994.

A breakout year followed in 2015, with Wingard earning his second All Australian blazer while being the Power’s leading goal-scorer that season.

At the conclusion of the 2018 season, Wingard requested a trade and found a fresh start at Hawthorn.

But he recognises the move between states, and clubs, did not come without its challenges.

“Coming from a country town to Adelaide, and then again from Adelaide to the ‘big smoke’ – it has been a transitional period,” he said.

“I think it has been harder for me to transition from Adelaide to Melbourne. Just being away from family – I used to be an hour away, now I’m eight hours away.

“So, it’s tough, especially during the pandemic, which everyone has gone through.

“I didn't have that support around when things were getting tough, but it has been a good growth area.

“I think the best thing about being at Hawthorn is the people that are around, it’s such a family club, as it's known for.”

Following an impressive 2020 campaign where he placed third in Hawthorn’s Peter Crimmins Medal count, Wingard continued his form as one of the club’s top performers in 2021.

Last season he led the club for inside 50s, goal assists and score involvements – with his average of 7.1 the 10th best in the league. Wingard also finished third best among his teammates for disposals.

His end to the season was particularly prolific, collecting at least 30 disposals in three of the last four rounds after returning from a hamstring injury.

Despite being in the system for a decade now, Wingard said he is still continuing to develop.

“I'm 28 years old and I'm still learning from the guys that have done more and have been to places where I haven't,” he said.

“So, I try to lean on Jack Gunston, David Hale, Sam Mitchell, and Luke Breust, who’s obviously done amazing things as well.”

From all his achievements on the field, Wingard has just as many off - passionately supporting the Indigenous space.

Over the years, he said he has learnt the importance of having values outside of football.

“I think something that I've tried to pride myself on is making sure I always try and give back to community and I think that's a real driving force with what I do,” Wingard said.

“I mean footy is almost the avenue for me to give back and to do something that I'm so passionate about.

“When I was at Port Adelaide, I loved getting back to the communities APY Lands, but also here at Hawthorn, going to Tassie, and Katherine, I can't wait to get up there.

“I think my purpose in life is to play AFL footy, but above and beyond that, I think it’s to give back in the Indigenous space and that's what I'm really passionate about.”