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Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins believes lessons leaned from a debilitating back injury have steeled him to play long beyond Friday's AFL milestone.
Hawkins will celebrate his 300th game when the Cats tackle Port Adelaide in a qualifying final at Adelaide Oval.
The 33-year-old joins captain Joel Selwood, Corey Enright, Ian Nankervis, Jimmy Bartel and Sam Newman in a select group to have played 300 matches for the club.
Such an achievement was the last thing on the power forward's mind in 2013, when a bulging disc affected fitness and form.
But Hawkins conquered the chronic woes and turned the corner in emphatic fashion; the veteran enters what is notionally the twilight of his career in strong form and in the mix for a third straight All-Australian blazer.
Hawkins, contracted until the end of 2022, feels ready to play on for several more years.
"I'm in a privileged position. In my 15th season, going into my 14th year of finals," Hawkins told reporters.
"There's been certain stages of my career when I thought 300 was well and truly unachievable.
"I had a little challenge with my back but I certainly learned a lot of things from it ... what I need to do to get myself physically fit and be able to play football at a high level.
"From that point on, I think I've consistently played my best footy."
Biosecurity restrictions will prevent Hawkins' wife Emma and their two daughters, Arabella and Primrose, from being at this week's match.
"I'm going to be away from them for a bit which, to be honest, I was shattered about early," Hawkins said
"I understand the situation but it is a bit disappointing.
"But I take solace in the fact I've got my teammates there, who are the other part of getting me to where I am today."
Hawkins has played in eight finals series since winning his second premiership, in 2011, and noted the hunt for that elusive third flag 'has kept me in the game so long".
"You could arguably look back on the last 10 years - and (focus on the fact) we haven't been able to win a premiership - but we get given a chance every year," he said.
"There's nothing more exciting than the feeling that finals give.
"I've played for a very successful club, won two AFL grand finals, won a VFL grand final, been in some very fortunate positions.
"At the same time, I've experienced a lot of disappointment.
"The disappointment and harder times prepare you for those great successes and also the milestones."