ROB Bright suspects a late start to senior football will prolong his career in Navy Blue.
The Warrnambool key defender will notch his 100th Hampden league senior game against Port Fairy on Saturday, having switched from volleyball in his mid-20s.
Bright is now 31 and a permanent fixture in the Blues’ back six.
“Maybe starting later has helped me injury-wise,” he said.
“Blokes my age are generally feeling towards the end but my body feels good.”
Bright played his junior football for Warrnambool before focussing his energies on volleyball with South West Pirates.
He returned to the football field seven years ago via the reserves.
Two seasons later he was a senior premiership player, filling a role in the ruck in the Blues’ 2012 triumph over Cobden.
“A couple of boys at work were playing so I thought I may as well come to training,” Bright said.
“I didn’t expect to play 100 senior games.
“I definitely didn’t play a senior game in my first year and then a couple the next year and from there I’ve been in there consistently.
“I have to give a big thanks to the club for sticking with me and for giving me an opportunity to play in a premiership and a couple of grand finals.”
Bright, who still plays volleyball domestically in a team with his wife Alex, said he had settled into defence after starting his senior career in the ruck.
“In 2012 I played as a ruckman and then floated a little bit but I’ve been in the back line the last three or so years,” he said.
“I enjoying playing back there, especially with the young blokes there now, the new generation.”
Warrnambool coach John Cook said Bright was the type of teammate people hoped for.
“He’s a great competitor, a ripper guy, always with a smile on his face and keen for a chat,” he said.
Skipper Sam Cowling and recruit Jordan Foott will line up for Warrnambool against a high-flying Port Fairy at Reid Oval on Saturday.
Teenager Austin Steere, who hurt his ankle in his senior debut, and recruit Brett Hunger, who joined via Caramut, make way.
Hunger is heavily involved in cricket over summer, having captained South West club Terang in recent seasons.
“Brett is a bit unlucky to miss,” Cook said of his round two omission.
“He’s come from a district league and had a bit of an interrupted pre-season but we thought he deserved a chance first up.
“He’ll run around ar 12 o’clock but we expect to see him at 2 o’clock before the year’s out.”