MORE than once, Shaun Burgoyne refers to this year’s draftees as “the kids”. He can be forgiven — the Hawthorn defender known as “Silk” has been playing at the highest level since most of the class of 2016 were in nappies. This year marks the four-time premiership star’s 16th AFL season. With a one-year deal, like fellow Hawk veterans Luke Hodge and Josh Gibson, Burgoyne is just hopeful he can fend off the questions later rather than sooner. “It seemed to be the number one thing people wanted to talk about last year,” he said. “It was a bit annoying towards the end, because you can only answer the same question so many ways.
“We were all in a pretty good spot with the club — we all knew exactly where we stood and we were happy to get on with it, but people kept asking questions and questions.
“Hopefully they settle down a bit this year.” He’s realistic, though. Former teammates Brian Lake and David Hale both retired at the end of 2015 and Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis shocked when they left the club at the end of last year.
At 34, Burgoyne — still rated as the game’s best general defender by Champion Data — knows there’s no room for “fantasy” in football.
When the time does come, he’s confident he’ll know.
“You don’t look too far ahead and we all understand we’re all closer to the end than the beginning,” he admitted.
“Hopefully, we just attack the season and it’ll work itself out in due course.
“Whether that’s positive or time to start looking for new employment, that’ll be clear to see for everyone and it’s clear for us.
“None of us are living in a fantasy land — we all know we have to retire at some stage and whether that’s this year, next year or whenever … at the moment the boys are all looking towards round one of the JLT (preseason Community Series).
“We’ll have to deal with that as we go through the season, but hopefully it’s not the only thing that keeps getting asked.”
It takes a few attempts at phone calls to get to Burgoyne, this week at least.
He’s in Broome, joining more than 50 Aboriginal AFL players and draftees — of which a decade-high 15 per cent of the recent crop is indigenous — at the AFL and AFL Players' Association Indigenous All Stars camp. The group has spent four
Veteran Shaun Burgoyne has no intention of retiring just yet; he enjoys an AFL indigenous camp in Broome with youngsters and fellow Hawk Cyril Rioli (far right); Cats Quinton Narkle, Brandan Parfitt, Nakia Cockatoo and Jamaine Jones (top) were all smiles at the camp. Pictures: GEORGE SALPIGTIDIS, AFL PHOTOS, TWITTER