Few players come as reliable as Blake Hardwick.

Tough, fearless, courageous, and ever consistent; you always know what you're going to get from the former No.44 pick in the 2015 draft.

Hardwick, or ‘Dimma’ as he is affectionately known by teammates and fans, has paved quite the impressive journey in his 149 games to date. 

With his 150th career game now on the horizon this Easter Monday against Geelong at the MCG, Hardwick said it was hard to believe how quickly the time has gone since arriving at the club as an 18-year-old.

"It has come around so fast, it feels like only a couple of years ago that I started," Hardwick told hawthornfc.com.au.

“It makes you reflect a bit, and realise how fast a career does go.

"With moments like these, your family can reflect on it to and enjoy the ride with you – it’s a good thing for them to celebrate as well."

Despite forging his AFL career as an impressive defender, Hardwick starred in his junior years as a forward. 

In his draft year, he was the leading goal-kicker in the TAC cup, with 56 goals to his name.

Reflecting on his earlier years, Hardwick said he enjoyed buzzing around the forward line. 

"I played full forward for the majority of the year, I didn’t really move from the goal square," he added.

"They had this weird rule where you had to have two players inside the 50 at all times... I made the most of that and hardly moved from the goal square and kicked some snags."

Hardwick had his work cut out for him in his first year at the Hawks as he tried to break through for a spot among a star-studded forward line consisting of Cyril Rioli, Paul Puopolo and Luke Breust. 

"I started forward in my first year at the club, I played one game that year when I came in for Cyril after he went out for one game," Hardwick said. 

“He came straight back in the next week so I came straight back out.

“That next pre-season Clarko (former Hawthorn Senior Coach Alastair Clarkson) decided to try me up back because he told me he wanted me in the team, but the best way for me to do that was playing in the back line.

"I haven’t really looked back, I’ve been there ever since."

After managing a single game in his debut season in 2016 as a forward, Hardwick went on to carve a break-out campaign the following year - all as a defender. 

Donning the number 15 guernsey left vacant by former premiership Captain Luke Hodge, Hardwick took his game to a new level in 2018.

The defender’s consistency and efficiency with ball in hand led to his two runner-up podium finishes in the Peter Crimmins Medal, across 2018 and 2021. 

Despite it never really being the plan, Hardwick has continued to establish an impressive career in the Hawks defensive unit across recent years.

But in a turn of events heading into 2024, Hardwick found himself back at the end of the ground that he started at, training with the forwards over the summer.

“For now, it’s the backline, but I played up forward most of the pre-season so if Sam (Mitchell) wants to change it up at some point we can, and I’m happy to do either one really," Hardwick said. 

"I played forward all as a junior from 10 years old to 18 years old, that’s probably why I can hopefully go down there and make an impact still."

So far across the first two games of the 2024 season, Hardwick has split his time across both ends of the ground. 

But no matter which end he lands at this year, one thing is sure to remain ever so consistent - his ever-competitive instinct that Hawks fans love to see.