Hasleby looks beyond 200
FREMANTLE midfielder Paul Hasleby has expressed his desire to play on next season and experience success at the end of his career as he prepares to play his 200th AFL game on Saturday night.
Hasleby, 29, was given a one-year contract extension at the end of 2009 and he said his focus at the moment was to get to the end of this season and prove his worth.
But having played in just two finals across 11 seasons, the veteran said being a part of a successful era with Fremantle was driving him to play on beyond this year.
“I’ve played 200 games and only two finals, and that’s something that I want to turn around and play in a few at the end of my career,” Hasleby said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“Jonathan Brown in the first four years of his [career] almost played in 20 finals. It’d be nice if I could do that at the end of my career.
“Once you get to 29 you’re getting watched every game you play.
“I’m just going to keep putting my best foot forward on and off the field and hopefully at the end of the year the club deems it good for me to go on.”
Drafted with the No.2 pick at the 1999 National Draft, Hasleby becomes the fourth player to play 200 games for Fremantle, joining Shane Parker (238 games), Shaun McManus (228) and captain Matthew Pavlich (225).
He said the milestone was recognition for everyone involved in his career, including his family and partner.
“It’s something I’m very proud of, I’ve certainly put a lot of work into it,” Hasleby said.
“It’s not something you aim to achieve when you start out in your career, but football’s certainly character building.
“You go through a lot of tough times (and) a lot of great times, which keeps you coming back. I’ve been through a fair bit, my family’s been through a fair bit and also my partner. So it’s a bit of recognition for everyone involved.”
A prolific ball-winner during the prime of his career, Hasleby, who has kicked 10 goals this season, said he had added to his game in 2010 and was happy with his form.
“I’ve played a bit of a different role,” he said. “Gone are the days where I’d just play as a midfielder, I’ve added a few more strings to my bow.
“I can go and play on someone and shut them down, I can also go down forward and have a bit of an impact. I’ve been quietly happy with the way I’m tracking.”
Hasleby said it had been a privilege to play alongside past players including Adrian Fletcher, Tony Modra and Peter Bell, while Troy Cook, and Shaun McManus were the two toughest players he stood alongside.
He said he had enjoyed a “front-row seat for the Matthew Pavlich show”, but the enduring memory of his career so far was a procession of big losses interstate.
“There’s been some very long flights back from Melbourne, I can say that,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the downsides of having played for Fremantle, a lot of long flights when you come back after a disappointing loss and you spend four or five hours mulling over what went wrong in the game.
“(But) I’ve made some great friendships, I’ve seen some great players and I look forward to playing with a few more with Stephen Hill and Michael Barlow stepping up and being the next champions around this football club.”