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Roughy’s resilience

Jarryd Roughead will notch another milestone this Sunday when the Hawks take on the Tigers at the MCG. His long-time teammate, Grant Birchall, writes about his resilience in an exclusive column ahead of his 250th game.

250 games of AFL footy is a wonderful achievement by anyone’s standards.

But given the regard Jarryd Roughead has within the playing group and wider AFL community, his milestone this weekend is a special one.

My earliest memory of Roughy is at a pre-season training camp at the beginning of 2006 — my first year at the Hawks.

He was one of those guys who made you feel comfortable straight away. He’s as down to earth as they come and is a good country lad.

We got along well from the start because we both have laid-back personalities and don’t take life too seriously. We enjoy a beer and other people’s company.

He’s grown a lot over the course of his career and is clearly one of the best leaders at the club — he leads from the front and brings a lot of energy and excitement to the group. If we kick a goal, he’s often one of the first blokes to get around the group.

What he’s been through in the last 18 months is well-documented and it goes to show the resilience of the guy and the work he’s put in to come back as well as he has.

During the back-end of last year, he decided he wanted to be around the club a bit more and participate in a few leadership meetings and work closely with the forwards.

His knowledge of the game is first class and he’ll always share his thoughts with the group which is another reason he is such a great leader.

The impact that had on the club was huge — he was terrific during that period.

Roughy’s been a selfless player since day one. He’s not a genuine key forward like he used to be and often mixes his positions by going up to a wing and can start at centre bounces and play through the midfield.

He’s always squaring the ball up and looking to bring other players into the game.

He’s really grown as a leader since he’s returned to playing this year but the good thing is that he hasn’t changed a hell of a lot — he’s still the same Roughy.

He’s one of the most respected people among the group and is someone you just want to hang around with all the time.

When I think of Roughy’s leadership, one moment that stands out was when we played Gold Coast at the MCG in Round 12 this year.

We were having an ordinary day up until three-quarter time but I remember Roughy stamping his authority on the game in the last quarter, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck and nearly dragging us over the line single-handedly.

That’s not to say he hasn’t done that before but you could see him really impacting the game when it mattered most.

That was the game where I thought he really has stepped up.

No matter how you look at it, what Roughy has achieved has been nothing short of remarkable and I’m glad I got to witness it first-hand.

He’s a 250-gamer, four-time premiership player, a Coleman Medalist but, more importantly, he’s a ripper bloke.

Hopefully the boys make it a memorable one for him this weekend.