RUCKMAN Ben McEvoy wants to remain part of Hawthorn's rebuild post the premiership three-peat and is loving the game as much as ever.
The 27-year-old had a slow start to the season and was visibly upset leaving the field after the Hawks' 86-point thrashing – its second loss by that margin in two weeks – by Geelong in round four.
But the two-time premiership big man turned in his best performance of the year in the 50-point defeat of West Coast at the MCG on Sunday night.
McEvoy shared ruck duties with recruit Ty Vickery in the early rounds, but largely went it alone at the weekend, with undersized Tim O'Brien giving him an occasional spell.
He had 43 hit-outs to go with 17 disposals, seven marks, five tackles and a goal in an all-round display against the Eagles’ Nathan Vardy as the Hawks moved to 1-4.
It was a timely performance, with emerging ruckman Marc Pittonet producing a standout display for the club's VFL affiliate Box Hill on Saturday.
Jonathon Ceglar would likely be contending for the No.1 ruck spot, but tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee against West Coast in round 22 last year.
"Cegs won't be available until probably August, I think, with his knee," McEvoy told AFL.com.au.
"Pitto had an outstanding performance at the weekend, which was great for Box Hill and us as a team and good for his development.
"But I feel like I'm playing good footy at the minute, so I don't worry about that. I worry about what I can do to help the team win each week and the rest takes care of itself."
McEvoy is in the final year of a four-year deal after joining the Hawks from St Kilda, but said he had no plans yet to head back permanently to Dederang, in north-east Victoria.
"It's still a great game we're playing and I'm lucky to be playing at a great club and loving it and for as long as the game will have me, I'll be around," he said.
"I've never made any secret of (wanting to go back to the country once I retire). I get back any chance I can and certainly hold no fears for what comes after footy.
"But for the minute, this is my No.1 priority and I'm still loving playing the game."
McEvoy was unfussed about playing the Saints in Tasmania on Saturday, declaring them the "enemy" this weekend.
"It's been a long time (since I was there) and when I finish my career, I'll certainly always have a soft spot for St Kilda," he said.
"But this week they're the enemy, so we'll be going down to Tassie to do a job and try and get four points."