Fletcher keeps on keeping on - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fletcher keeps on keeping on

John Salvado 17/04/2011 05:36:03 PM Comments (0)

If there is any secret to the remarkable AFL longevity of Dustin Fletcher, he's not letting on.

A fortnight shy of his 36th birthday, the oldest player in the competition was again the best player on the park as the undermanned Bombers held on for a dramatic draw against Carlton at the MCG on Saturday.

Fletcher's game-saving tackle on Blues speed merchant Jeff Garlett in the dying minutes and a huge second-quarter goal from inside the centre square were just two of many highlights for the ageless defender.

If he stays fit, Fletcher will become only the 12th player in VFL/AFL history to reach the 350-game milestone in round 23.

And he's given no indication that he's ready to stop there.

"Once you get to 30 now, you don't look too far ahead," Fletcher said on Sunday.

"I'll just keep going.

"The body's feeling pretty good, the playing group is happy and having a go.

"For me, when everyone is boring in and having a dip, I'll just keep playing footy."

So what is the secret to the age-defying nature of his career?

"I'm not sure," said the laid-back defender who played the majority of his career alongside first-year coach James Hird.

"I suppose I keep pretty healthy and mentally I still enjoy it.

"There are times when you've got to put the footy to the back of your mind for a little bit just to keep enjoying it.

"I think I've done that and probably had a bit of luck with injuries."

Fletcher acknowledged that the modern game was tougher than ever, especially for midfielders, with the introduction of the substitute rule.

But just to show how long he had been playing the game at the highest level, Fletcher noted there were only two players on the interchange bench when he made his debut as a 17-year-old schoolboy with the Baby Bombers of 1993.

"When I started, you played a full game, no matter what," he said.

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