THE inter-league stage brought out the best in Stephen Milne on Saturday.
At age 34 and having just played 275 AFL games and kicked 574 goals for St Kilda, Milne has nothing left to prove and could have easily taken the chance to rest his body and enjoy a week off.
But he put his hand up to represent the Blue and Gold and the highest profile - and most controversial - player to join the Bendigo Football League in years delivered with a bag of nine goals to be the match-winner against Gippsland.
It was Milne's first senior representative game and he loved every minute, kicking two goals in the first quarter, three in the second, two in the third and two in the last.
"It was a really good game of footy. We were on top for most of the day, but Gippsland played with that never-say-die attitude and were able to hang around," Milne said after the 19.14 (128) to 13.16 (94) victory.
"But there's nothing better than getting a win, especially with a group of boys I haven't played with before, so I'll really cherish it.
"I was lucky enough to get on the end of a few with the quality midfielders we had."
Milne produced the highlight of the game when at the 11-minute mark of the final quarter he soared over a pack to take a hanger, which he converted for his ninth goal.
"I haven't taken one like that before, so I was pretty happy with it," Milne said.
"It just landed in my lap, but it was a good feeling up there, so hopefully, I can take a few more."
As well as Milne, the Bendigo forward line also included former 157-game North Melbourne forward Corey Jones, who kicked four goals.
"Jonesy took some good contested marks and that right and left-foot combination we had seemed to work well," said Milne, who is playing with Strathfieldsaye and leads the BFL goalkicking with 35.
Meanwhile, Milne was presented post-game with a football signed by all the Bendigo players for his performance, which he chose to pass on to team-mate Nick Stagg, who was also one of the Blue and Gold's best.