Booming… Brent Harvey, 34, and in career-best form.NORTH Melbourne’s Brent Harvey is defying his veteran status and continuing to be a matchwinner for the club, and Roos great Glenn Archer believes he can keep it up for a few years to come.
Since 2005, the 34-year-old has averaged 22 disposals and two goals a game. This year, he stepped that up, kicking 25.5 – the third most goals for the club – with a career-high scoring accuracy of 83 per cent.
”I was thinking to myself, 34, maybe he is coming towards the end, which I have never thought about ‘Boomer’,” Archer said. ”But he’s quickly changed my mind in the past 10 weeks. He’s been unbelievable.
”He’s one of those guys whose consistency has been amazing. You can’t keep him down for too long.”
Andrew Swallow, 25, replaced Harvey – the only Roo from North’s 1999 premiership team still playing AFL after Geelong’s Cameron Mooney retired last year – as captain in February. But it wasn’t a signal the veteran was nearing the scrap heap.
He revealed he had always told coach Brad Scott he would like to play at least one year without being captain, and Scott was happy to support that wish.
But with the Roos looking to make the finals for the first time since 2008, when they fell by 35 points to Sydney in the elimination final, Archer believes there is more than just one more year left in his former teammate’s career.
”He’ll definitely play next year, and even if he does slow down a little bit the year after, you could always use him as a sub. He’d be a pretty handy sub to come on halfway through the third quarter.”
Archer attributed Harvey’s longevity to hard work and good preparation – a combination that he had followed diligently throughout his career.
”He’s always been the same, his preparation has always been as good as anyone’s at the club, if not better. He sort of set the standard in the late ’90s in how to prepare for footy, and I reckon having those good habits as a young kid – and they’ve just got better as he has got older – has held him in good stead.
”When someone sets the standard like that, they force you to start doing the same sort of things.”
And it seems that North’s emerging midfield brigade, including Liam Anthony, Sam Gibson, with Swallow at the helm, has adopted that hardened discipline, which has further lengthened Harvey’s career and turned around the Roos’ patchy start to the year.
”What helps … is the young midfielders coming through,” Archer said. ”When you’re 34-35, you need to rely a bit on your team to play well as well. It’s been great that they have stepped up and helped him out.
”There was a four-week period there that was probably the worst football I have seen them play. And then they have gone from that to the best football I’ve seen them play. It’s been amazing and a credit to them to be able to turn it around quickly.
”When you are playing that poor, some teams turn it around for a week or so then they’ll go back to where they were. But they have been able to turn it around and sustain it.”
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