Ben McEvoy knows a thing or two about perseverance.
With 250 games on the horizon this weekend, one might think his career has been relatively smooth sailing.
Well, at least that may have been the case up until the beginning of this year.
While McEvoy had dealt with various injury hiccups over his career, the challenge that he faced in 2022 became his biggest hardship.
He had been clipped in the wrong spot during a training session at Waverley Park, and before he knew it he was lying on the ground being attended to by medical staff.
“It was a long journey,” McEvoy said reflecting on his rehabilitation period.
“I’ve been enormously privileged over my 15-year career that I've not had to do many long rehabs.
“That was the most games I’ve ever missed, so it was a challenge. I was lucky enough to play every game last year and to have only had one game next to my name this year was weird.”
The neck fracture sidelined him for the first half of the season, and while surgery was not required, he had to wear a neck brace for what turned out to be 12 weeks.
"I was as little as 20 per cent function in my right arm, so the boys would laugh at me - I was like worse than a first-year player, I could only lift a bar with no weights on it,” he explained.
“It's all I could do because the pathway just wasn't firing.”
Affectionally known as ‘Big Boy’, McEvoy has continued to maintain an incredible perspective of the bumps and grinds along the way.
The challenge he faced this year was no different.
“I’m lucky that I have really strong perspective in my life, I have three beautiful little kids and a wonderful family, so I was able to keep things in perspective,” McEvoy said.
“I had to be really patient at the start as I had some nerve damage from the incident and so it took a long time for that function to start to return.
"Once it was back in my control a little bit, I was always confident that I could get back."
McEvoy has played every game since making his AFL return in Round 17 against Adelaide.
Now as he prepares to play his 250th career game against Gold Coast this Saturday, McEvoy says he is enjoying his football now as much as ever.
“I remember playing my 200th game and thinking, ‘How good has this game been to me’," McEvoy said in an interview with the Herald Sun last week.
"I’d already played in a couple of premierships back then, 250 games seemed a long way away then.”
A favourite of among Hawthorn members, those who work at the club, his teammates and coaches, there’s no denying that everyone walks a little bit taller when Big Boy is around.
His character, his care, and his effort for the betterment of the club has been unquestionable, even during his time on the sidelines this year.
“It has been really rewarding for me to see different guys blossom this year,” McEvoy said.
“I’ve had a chance to influence some of our younger guys, and even our experienced guys, in a different way."
Come along to celebrate McEvoy’s 250th milestone this Saturday at UTAS Stadium against Gold Coast at 1.45pm.
To purchase tickets to the game visit ticketmaster.