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I know I can compete, says Koschitzke

Jennifer Phelan  August 28, 2013 12:14 PM

Saints go marching out Highlights of retiring Saints Jason Blake, Stephen Milne and Justin Koschitzke
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Justin Koschitzke remains on the verge of a call-up for game 200 this week

Clearly early on in the year, I realised it was going to be my last year of AFL footy

JUSTIN Koschitzke believes he can be competitive in his 200th and final game on Saturday against Fremantle as he faces a race against time to be selected.

The 30-year-old has not played seniors since round 14 and has been battling a calf and a finger complaint.

He trained on Wednesday, albeit with strapping encasing his left leg from the knee down, but must get through Friday's session as well before he is picked.

Despite not playing at any level since his last AFL game in round 14, he believes he has done enough to contribute to the team should all his training go to plan over the next 48 hours.

"I feel comfortable; I've just got to get through training without being injured again," Koschitzke said on Wednesday.

"I know I can get out there and be competitive; I've done the work.

"The coach wants me to [play] but if I get through training and prove that I'm fit … I've got a couple more boxes to tick.

"I've done the rehab diligently and everything has come to a point where I'm fit enough to play AFL footy again.

"I've been training for a couple of weeks so that was always the goal to get back and be competitive."

If he plays it will certainly be Koschitzke's last AFL game, as well as the last stand for the retiring Jason Blake and Stephen Milne.

Having been stranded on 199 games for so long, Koschitzke said it would mean plenty to finish alongside those long-term teammates and share his 200th with Adam Schneider, who will also reach the milestone.

"It's probably turned into a bit of a saga it shouldn't have but at the end of the day, it's not about what I was going to do and the milestone [of 200 games]," he said.

"That's not what the year was about.

"Clearly early on in the year, I realised it was going to be my last year of AFL footy and it was never about finishing and trying to play 200 games.

"I had to really focus on what my purpose was about and it was about growing the great group around us and celebrating what sort of legacy we could leave."

Koschitzke and Blake said they were proud to be retiring as one-club players after 13 and 14 years respectively at St Kilda.
 
Milne, who has off-field legal battles to contend with, was not made available to the media after he revealed he was retiring on the weekend.
 
But his value to his teammates and the club was clear in the way he was spoken about in a press conference held in front of the entire club.
 
Schneider, who admitted he was "embarrassed" to be sitting alongside the popular retiring pair, said Milne was the best forward pocket player he'd ever played with and one of the best in the game.
 
Koschitzke said Milne "represents everything about St Kilda".
 
"He's the ultimate teammate, the ultimate family man," he said.
 
"He's going to go down as one of the greats of our club, statistically with what he's done and the great things he's given people, supporters, whether they love him or hate him over the fence, he's the ultimate team man and the ultimate person you want next to you."
 
Blake, who knew halfway through the season it was his last and leaves comfortable with how his final year has panned out, said Milne was the "heart and soul" of St Kilda.
 
Koschitzke also said Saturday afternoon's game, ironically against former coach Ross Lyon's Fremantle, would be a big day for the club.
 
"That's why it's so great it's not one of us, that's it's not about my 200th or 'Schneider’s 200th or whoever is retiring," he said.
 
"It's a really great St Kilda day [after] a year that hasn't reflected the wins.
 
"The club's given us… the chance to go out and celebrate an amazing red, white and black day with some of the guys that have contributed significantly to this team.
 
"It's something the supporters should really get around."
 
Blake retires on 219 games and says he has "no regrets" about a career where he played in three Grand Finals that didn't end in premierships.
 
"We had the opportunity and not many teams or players get that opportunity and we had it a couple of times," he said.
 
"I enjoyed every minute of it and it's something I'll hold very dear when I finish this game."

Twitter: @AFL_JenPhelan