Keeffe finally notches Giant AFL milestone
LACHIE Keeffe admits his 50th game milestone snuck up on him.
"I didn't even realise," the GWS Giants key position player said this week following game No.49.
When the towering Queenslander runs out tonight against West Coast in Perth, it will be seven years, eight months and 20 days since he made his debut back in round16, 2011 with Collingwood.
Granted it has taken about two years less than it took teammate Sam Reid, who played his 50th game last year, but it has taken Keeffe longer than most to reach the milestone.
For Keeffe it's been a victory for perseverance.
"It's been a long time coming," he said. "It's a fair effort to get to 50 games. Not everyone can achieve that goal."
A soccer player from Gympie who boarded at "big rugby school" Marist College in Brisbane, Keeffe moved to Melbourne at 17 when Collingwood took a punt on him as a rookie. At 204cm, he was big and athletic but hadn't played competitive footy.
His senior debut came three years later before a ruptured right anterior cruciate ligament forced his first extended stint on the sidelines.
Keeffe was then handed a two-year suspension he would and fellow Magpie Josh Thomas tested positive to the banned substance clenbuterol.
"I'm pretty open about it," Keeffe said. "If you make your bed you sleep in it. If you've done something you shouldn't have done, you pay the cost.
"(But) I won't sit here and say they were the worst two years of my life either."
Keeffe had begun studying for his MBA in Melbourne before returning to Brisbane to live with his parents Matt and Karen and working with his Dad at an electrical engineering design firm.
"I hadn't been home since I was 15," he recalled. "Most people move out when they're 25, I moved back in."
Keeffe was joined in Brisbane by fellow Queenslander Thomas.
"We trained pretty hard, didn't let ourselves go," he said. "Kept fit, kept strong.
"Lucky enough, Collingwood put their faith in me and Josh and kept us on the list."
While Thomas is a key member of the Magpies' 22, Keeffe was let go at the end of the 2017 season without making another senior appearance, but he was handed a lifeline by the Giants.
He played eight games last season - the first coming three years and 248 days after his last game for Collingwood while the last was a final against the Magpies.
"When I first came to the club, it was put to me in no uncertain terms, you're not a high-profile recruit, you're not guaranteed a spot," Keeffe said.
"But there's different examples of guys coming in in the same sort of fashion as myself and then trained well, played well and deserved their spot in the 22."
If all goes according to plan, his next 50 games will come decidedly quicker than the first 50.
"During the pre-season I set the goal of playing round one, and being in the best 22 for the whole year," Keeffe said. "I want to be a part of this team that's pretty special I reckon. I want to play in a premiership.
"I put in a pretty good pre-season, didn't miss any of the sessions. I felt good."
While initially fearing another torn ACL - in his left knee - after going down early in the Giants' opening-round clash with Essendon, Keeffe returned to the field to kick three goals and contribute to the demolition job on the Bombers.
"I trained all pre-season in the backline and started the game there," he said.
"But I had a chat to (coach) Leon (Cameron) … he said, can you just go and sit in the goalsquare.
"The boys were dominating the game so it made my job a whole lot easier, that's for sure."
Keeffe is happy to play wherever the team needs him - just as long as he's getting a game.
"I'm 28 now. I'm on a one-year contract at the moment so you've got to make every post a winner," he said.
"I'm under no illusions that you just can't have too many lulls, or you'll get left behind pretty quick, especially in a team that's competing for a flag.
"You've got to play well very every week to cement our your spot. I think I've started in the right manner, anyway."