THE FOOTY landscape surrounding Ryan Griffen's time in the AFL has changed plenty in 14 seasons, but he's not all that much different to the South Australian youngster who was first drafted back in 2004.
He's older, more experienced, and playing at a different club to the one he began with, but as the Greater Western Sydney veteran prepares for his 250th game against Gold Coast on Saturday, he remains a country kid at heart.
He's a man who loves playing footy even if "it is getting harder as I get older", even if he's not much of a fan of the other aspects of life as a professional footballer in 2018.
Griffen told the AFL.com.au that his journey to the significant milestone is something he'll focus on more when he's retired, but it feels like it was only yesterday that he arrived in Melbourne to start his career with the Western Bulldogs.
"When I got drafted I was a chubby, lazy kid from the country, who didn't understand how hard you had to work," he said.
"I got drafted on the Saturday and Rodney Eade gave me a call and said, 'mate, you'll be at the club Monday so prepare', which was pretty daunting.
"I got placed with a host family and I remember Brad Johnson came to the house and took me to the footy club.
"I was a pretty shy and nervous kid as it was, and you got thrown pretty much straight into it back then.
"I wanted to earn the respect of the playing group, but I didn't really know how to do that, so I just concentrated on my training, put my head down and didn't say boo to anyone.
"There were times after training that I'd sit in the shower and think 'what am I doing?' because pre-seasons back then were brutal."
Griffen was taken by the Dogs at pick three – a priority selection – at the 2004 NAB AFL draft, with current teammate Brett Deledio (Richmond) and Jarryd Roughead (Hawthorn) the only two players chosen in front of him.
He could have been daunted by the prospect of playing alongside some of the Bulldogs' biggest names of that era, but that wasn't an issue for the boy from Goolwa.
"I was never really a footy fanatic, I loved playing and was always out the back kicking the footy with my brothers, but I didn't watch a lot of games," Griffen said.
"I didn't know much about the Western Bulldogs, so I didn't know much about the superstars I was training with.
"I got to learn pretty quick though, and guys like Brad Johnson, Robert Murphy, Luke Darcy and Scott West were awesome for me.
"Scotty was my mentor for the first three years I was there, and he really taught me how to get the best out of myself.
"He was such a competitor and was ruthless on the track in terms of standards, and the way he trained was unbelievable to watch.
"It was scary sometimes, but he expected everyone to train to a standard he expected, and it taught you pretty quickly that it was a pretty serious business."
You can see the full version of this piece in the AFL Record on sale at Spotless Stadium on Saturday.