25/05/2024

Shaun Burgoyne is joining the exclusive 400 club.

On the eve of Shaun Burgoyne's 400 game milestone, The Inner Sanctum spoke with Dustin Fletcher about the trials and tribulations associated with a career that stretches two decades, and 'Silk's' incredible journey to the illustrious 400 Club.

On the eve of Shaun Burgoyne’s 400 game milestone, The Inner Sanctum spoke with Dustin Fletcher about the trials and tribulations associated with a career that stretches two decades, and ‘Silk’s’ incredible journey to the illustrious 400 Club.

Fletcher achieved his 400-game accolade-filled career for Essendon across 23 seasons, from 1993 as a schoolboy.

His journey included two Premierships as part of the 1993 Baby Bombers and one of the greatest teams of all time in 2000.

In 2015 after two All-Australian blazers and a Crichton Medal in a Premiership year, he became just the third player to achieve the 400-game milestone in AFL/VFL history.

Burgoyne’s career boasts similar feats; the four-time Premiership star was an All-Australian in 2006 and he has kicked 301 goals to date.

His blend of composure with ball in hand and sense for the occasion gifted him the nickname ‘Silk’, and has him known as one of the game’s greatest clutch players of the modern era.

Speaking to The Inner Sanctum at Marvel Stadium on Friday, Fletcher reflected on Silk’s incredible career that stretches from Port Adelaide to Hawthorn, and praised his underrated competitive edge for a man known as one of the nicest guys in the competition.

Dustin Fletcher at Marvel Stadium on Friday afternoon.

“He’s an unbelievable player, I didn’t match up on him too many times – I think the odd time – because he was through the midfield and he’s played basically everywhere during his career really,” he said.

“He’s a tremendous player, he’s got the nickname ‘Silk’ for a reason. For him to be able to do it for 400 games, 17 years, it took me 23 to do it so he’s going a bit better than me!

“I think you’ve got to be competitive, there’s no doubt about that.

“You’ve got to be able to play through the odd injury, whether it be a corky or a niggle. You’ve just gotta put it to the back of your mind sometimes, because every time you have a little injury and you don’t play, well you’re not going to make it to 400 games.

“That’s probably the key – competitiveness, you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to love the sport, which we all do. I think they’re the three main things.”

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Dustin Fletcher expanded on his experience in the system with Essendon, and the need to maintain relationships with the playing group as you climb in games towards the illustrious 400 mark.

“I was 40 when I played my last game so when the younger guys come in the changerooms they’re only 17 or 18, I think you’ve got to be able to get along with everyone,” he said.

“They can nearly be your kids, the ones that are quite young these days. I think that’s the key; being at footy club with 40-45 on the list, the ability to get along with everyone and to keep that competitive nature going once game time starts.”

Shaun Burgoyne will play his 400th AFL game on Saturday night when Hawthorn takes on his old side Port Adelaide.

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