LAUREN WOOD

Sunday Herald Sun - - Afl -

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

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