JOEL Selwood’s focus this week hasn’t deviated from the job at hand against the Sydney Swans as he prepares to play his 200th game on Saturday night.
Eight years and 129 days after debuting against the Western Bulldogs in 2007, Selwood will become the youngest Geelong player to reach 200 games, and also the fourth fastest in VFL/AFL history to the milestone behind Wayne Schimmelbush (eight years, 11 days), Adam Goodes (eight years, 102 days) and Ben Hart (eight years, 123 days).
The 27-year-old Cats skipper, who was earmarked a future leader from the day he first walked into the club, will also become the eighth player drafted out of the Bendigo Pioneers to notch 200 games, and the first of the four Selwood brothers – which include Adam, Troy and Scott - who have all played AFL to do so.
Speaking to the media on Friday ahead of his milestone game, Selwood described his career as a “great ride”, but was quick to turn the focus to the game against the Swans and the importance of it for the Cats, who are clinging onto their position in the top eight by just percentage.
“It’s obviously a huge game in the context of the season for us. We’re looking forward to a hard contest, which is what we usually get from Sydney and we go in really confident,” Selwood said.
“We’ve had a great past three weeks, been really hard to score against and we want that to continue.”
Selwood says he has no problems sharing the limelight on Saturday night with Adam Goodes, who returns to the Sydney side after missing last week in the wake of the booing controversy.
Both the Cats and Swans will run through a joint banner as a sign of respect for Goodes.
“It is what it is and I understand why we’re doing it. We’re going to run through the banner together, we decided that as a football club, and I’m really happy with that,” Selwood said.
Before becoming a star of the AFL with Geelong, Selwood played his junior football with St Therese’s and Kennington-Sandhurst, before being drafted from the Bendigo Pioneers by the Cats with selection No.7 in 2006.
In his eight completed seasons, Selwood has put together one of the most impressive football careers of a Bendigo product.
His AFL CV includes three premierships (2007, 2009 and 2011); the 2007 Rising Star Award, four All-Australian selections (2009, 2010, 2013 and 2014), including the past two as captain; three Geelong best and fairests (2010, 2013 and 2014); four AFLPA Most Courageous Player Awards (2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014); and Michael Tuck Medal (2009); while he has been captain of the Cats – the club he grew up barracking for – since 2012.
And he almost had a Brownlow Medal added to that list as well in 2013 when he was leading the count, only to be pipped on the last vote of the night by former team-mate Gary Ablett.
Selwood also boasts a remarkable winning percentage of 77.8, having played in 155 victories in his 199 games.
“I’m proud of what I have done along the way… I walked in here as a Geelong supporter among people I idolised growing up, became their team-mate, they challenged me, I challenged them and it has been a great journey and I hope that continues,” Selwood said.
It’s a journey that started on the football grounds of Bendigo, and Selwood hasn’t forgotten it.
In 2013 he joined AFL Central Victoria’s Development Squad as its ambassador, saying at the time Bendigo “is a place I always want to see do well.”
Selwood is the only footballer to have won Bendigo’s Sports Star of the Year Award, taking out the top honour in 2010.