Jesse Hogan poses during Greater Western Sydney's 2024 team photo day at the VAILO Community Centre. Picture: AFL Photos

JESSE Hogan's journey to 150 games has been one of the more remarkable in history, so much so that the Greater Western Sydney spearhead had even pondered himself if it was a milestone he'd ever manage to reach.

There have been high points and hiccups across three clubs in a career that includes a Rising Star award and three 40-plus goal seasons in his first four years with Melbourne.

A move back home to Fremantle at the end of 2018 ultimately failed as off-field issues threatened to end one of the more promising careers of the last decade, but his last-chance saloon at the Giants has proved Hogan's saviour.

The 29-year-old has settled remarkably in the Harbour City, away from the spectre and spotlight of the League's fishbowl of Melbourne and Perth that never quite agreed with him.

He now has 300 goals to his name, is coming off his best season yet, is in Coleman Medal contention this year (26 goals so far) and is truly content with where footy sits in his world as he fights for a premiership with the Giants family that he covets so much.

"There was probably a period in my career where a lot of people had written me off, that I might not even get to a 100 (games). And I probably doubted myself a little bit as well to be honest that maybe it (AFL football) wasn't really for me,” Hogan told ahead of his 150-game milestone on Saturday.

"To notch up 150, and to be in a good head space about the game and to be really enjoying it again, I'm pretty proud of myself."


As Hogan battled the pressures of football, many wondered if he actually enjoyed the game or if he just persisted with the pursuit because, well, he was just damn good at it. In fact, the Claremont product probably considered that quandary himself.

But now into a fourth season at the Giants, he has rediscovered some of the purity that comes with playing the game while also learning to manage the undeniable pressures that had previously punished him.

"I really enjoy it again, I mean, I really do enjoy the grind. I enjoy the pre-season, I enjoy the camaraderie, I enjoy running out there with blokes on debut and having the enthusiasm and infectious energy that they bring. I'm in a really good head space," Hogan said.

"Obviously coming over to Sydney where the media and stuff like that is probably toned down a little bit compared to where I played in the past has probably been really good for my enjoyment and being able to just disconnect with the game.

"Once I leave the club, I don't have to think about footy as much as probably what I did in the past. I don't take that for granted, that I'm over here and we can go about our work, but then once we are done, it's a nice disconnect.

"I think that the pressures of an AFL athlete these days are probably the highest they've ever been. There's probably three extra footy shows a week compared to when I first started. You're under the pressure a lot more and under the microscope a lot more.

"If you're not really enjoying (it) it can become really hard. You need to be at the top of your game.

"The competition's never been at a higher level. It's so hard that if you're not enjoying it, and there's definitely going to be lows, probably a lot more than the highs unfortunately, it can really get to you. That's what comes with the job of being a top end athlete. It's your full-time job."

Jesse Hogan celebrates a goal during the match between Essendon and Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Of course, it's far easier to enjoy the caper when you're winning and that's been common place at the Giants from the mid-point of 2023.

But while they are still very much a premiership fancy, they have a hit a little hurdle this season, dropping three of their last four games placing considerable pressure on their shoulders to win against the Western Bulldogs at Engie Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

"We're probably just not nailing the small details and valuing the defensive side as much as the top four, top six sides are. And to win games at the end of the year when it matters, and to be playing at the end of the year, you need to be valuing that. And that's across the board," Hogan said.

"Our backs have probably been the best at it. But our midfielders and forwards just weren't very united on the weekend. It's not the end of the world losing a couple of games here and there. If you're going to lose, it's probably the time to do it but obviously we want to win every game.

"On the weekend (away to Essendon) with 'Wardy' (Callan Ward) and 'Slammer's' (Sam Taylor) milestones, it was bitterly disappointing not to get it done for two warriors at the footy club."

Jesse Hogan warms up ahead of Callan Ward's 300th match in the clash between Essendon and Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

A subplot of the Giants' sluggish month is the form of their skipper and reigning All-Australian captain, Toby Greene.

When you set yourself as high a bar as Greene has, things are never as bad as they seem.

While he is still second in the competition for goal assists, the majors have dried up with only 11 goals for the season.

But Hogan has backed his partner in crime in attack to get back to his absolute best sooner rather than later.

Toby Greene and Jesse Hogan celebrate a goal for GWS in the 2023 elimination final against St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos

"He's probably the most highly marked player in the competition. And for good reason. I think what he showed last year was nothing short of superhuman. It's the best individual season I've ever been a part of across my 12 years in the League," Hogan.

"But by no means is he not impacting the game. I think he's leading our inside 50s. He's right up there for goal assists. He's probably not hitting the scoreboard as much as he'd like, but it's probably pretty scary that will click at some stage and he will get on the end of a few and be back to his absolute best."

Thankfully for the Giants, Hogan is in the midst of his best goalkicking season to date of the back of a career-high haul of 49 goals last year.


Along with the 150-game mark that arrives this weekend, there was the 300-goal milestone that came in last week's lost to Essendon.

"I actually didn't know that until after the game. One of my mates messaged me. It's not really something that you pay attention to unless you get into the real pointy end that (Tom) Hawkins and Jack Riewoldt and 'Buddy' (Lance Franklin) obviously reached. It's a small milestone and it's nice to reflect on," he said.

And there may just be a Coleman Medal in the collection at the end of 2024.

"My friends probably follow that a bit closer than I do. They're the ones that let me know. It's nice to be alongside Charlie (Curnow) and Ben King, the stars of the comp. But by no means is it something that I put too much thought and time into to be honest."