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Boak’s ‘Olympic preparation’ key to his longevity

Travis Boak will line up for his 300th game when Port Adelaide take on Collingwood on Friday night. Teammate Robbie Gray and former Power player Paul Stewart reflect on Boak’s career so far, and provide a rare insight into the three-time All Australian’s preparation, leadership and character.

Words from Robbie Gray

We played against each other in under 18s footy, but didn’t actually meet until we were at the airport ready to fly over to Adelaide together upon both getting drafted by Port Adelaide.

We became mates pretty quickly and formed a really strong friendship.

Boaky’s caring, selfless, and from a footy point of view, driven to succeed. He’s the type of bloke that would do anything for anyone else; he’s got time for everyone.

We had some years where things were pretty tough at the footy club, but I think Trav was one of those real leaders during that time.

He had a big decision to make.

It’s been well-documented that Geelong were pretty keen to get him home given he’s from there, but his decision to stay really led the way for everyone else.

We had a number of young guys that were a pretty tight group coming through, and really wanted to turn things around. Trav was one of the leaders of that.

He’s always prepared really strongly, and he’s always worked really hard, but he’s taken that to another level as his career has gone on.

He’s always looking for new ways and new things to keep mentally and physically fresh, and he’s always exploring ways to get better.

He cops so much attention from opposition taggers every week, but he just continues to work, and that’s why he very rarely has an off game.

When we first got drafted, you could see the drive in him; he wanted to be the best.

That has stuck with him his whole career.

He’s been amazing for his family, and they have for him. His mum and sister back in Torquay in Victoria, he’s got one sister over here (Adelaide) as well, they’re a super close family.

He has done charity work for the Childhood Cancer Association for as long as I can remember.

He’s done so much work with not only them, but many other charities and causes that are out there. He always offers up his time to help.

He’s also stood up in some massive moments for our footy team.

Words from Paul Stewart

I still remember the first time all of the draftees from 2006 met.

Travis Boak, Robbie Gray, David Rodan and Ryan Williams were the four Victorians that we picked up, and locally, it was myself and Justin Westhoff, along with Nathan Krakouer from WA.

Initially, Travis was a quiet guy. It’s been well-noted how family driven Travis is, so for him to come interstate was a big move.

He probably kept to himself for the first six-to-12 months, but we’ve been great mates for the whole time, and you could tell, from day one, that he was going to be star.

You could tell he was a driven leader who was always going to get the best out of himself.

I’ve seen a lot of new kids come into the footy club over my 10 years of playing and recent seasons as Head of Player Welfare and Development, but I’ve never seen a guy come in and run the way Travis did from day one.

He literally hit the ground running from his first training session.

He pushes himself on the training track every session, and then takes that into day-to-day life through extras in the gym and the time he invests into the game.

Early days, he’d always be studying the opposition and talking to coaches, and now he puts a lot of work into recovery to keep his body right.

There wouldn’t be an hour that goes by in a week where he isn’t thinking, ‘How can I get better for the next training session?’ or, ‘How can I prepare better for the next game?’ and he’s continued to do that for every game of his career.

Power assistant coach Nathan Bassett speaks about how there are elite players in the competition who prepare to be elite, and he puts Travis in the category above that.

He’s got his own words for him: Olympic preparation. I totally agree; I’ve never seen anything like it.

Even in the off-season, he goes overseas and does different training programs. That’s just who he is.

No-one who knows him is surprised about it, because that’s Travis, and it’s how he goes about his footy and his life.

When he talks, everyone listens.

He knows what he’s talking about, he knows what he wants, and he’s going to drag everyone along with him.

When he took the captaincy in 2013, he and Ken Hinkley took the club from bottom four to finals straight away. I don’t think that gets spoken about enough.

He’s driven now more than he’s ever been, and it doesn’t surprise me that six years apart he’s All Australian again (2013, 2014 and 2020), and it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s around for another four years and still in that conversation, because I can’t see him slowing down. I

I’m not sure what’s going to stop him.

I’ve learnt a lot from Travis, and I’ll continue to learn, because we’ll be mates for a long time.

I can’t speak highly enough of what he’s done in football, but also what he’s done for people off the field.