WEST Coast premiership captain Shannon Hurn credits his preparation, ability to evolve as a player, and a little bit of luck for his longevity as he prepares to break the Eagles' games record in Sunday's Western Derby.
Hurn has trained as normal this week and got through Thursday's session unscathed after recovering from a calf injury, all but ensuring he returns this week for his record 291st AFL game.
The 33-year-old said he was physical and mentally in "a really good space" as he approaches the record, which was previously held by champion ruckman and former teammate Dean Cox.
"(The body) is feeling really good and mentally I'm really enjoying training and really enjoying being part of the footy club. I think they are the two things that you need to be able to do," Hurn said on Thursday.
"You just need to keep evolving and adapting as well. 'Glassy' (Darren Glass) did that, 'Coxy' did that. All the players who are able to have longevity in the game do that.
"The game changes and teams work you out, so you need to be able to do the basics well but also sightly adapt along the way."
Hurn, who could become the Eagles' first 300-game player later this season, said he was honoured to set the new record and he had received plenty of calls and texts from former teammates, coaches and club staff this week.
It was not yet guaranteed that his family would be able to travel from South Australia for the game, however, because of quarantine requirements after the recent COVID-19 cases in Western Australia.
While tributes will come from his teammates and coaches ahead of the match, Hurn didn't expect to lead the players out as captain one last time as part of the occasion.
MEDICAL ROOM The full AFL injury list
Captain Luke Shuey and vice-captain Jeremy McGovern are sidelined with hamstring and groin injuries respectively, leaving Nic Naitaniui and Josh Kennedy as the remaining members of the four-man leadership group.
"There hasn't been (talk of that), and I would have thought that would be probably Josh or Nic Nat," he said.
"Josh and Nic are part of that vice-captain group, so it would be more along those lines."
Hurn, who led the Eagles for 120 games from 2015-19, was voted the game's best captain by his peers in 2019 at the AFL Players' Association Awards and named vice-captain of that year's All-Australian team.
He said stepping away from the role had allowed him to give more time to his teammates and pass on experiences to the club's younger players.
"I feel like I do that more and there's a bit more time to do that. That's what 'Coxy' did and 'Glassy' did and I'm making sure I give back to the playing group in that sense now," he said.
Hurn is preparing for his 25th clash against Fremantle, with a record of 14 wins, 11 losses, and three Glendinning-Allan medals as best afield.
With McGovern sidelined, Hurn endorsed young defender Harry Edwards to perform if he was called on as a replacement for his first game in 2021 and second career game.
The Dockers, meanwhile, will sweat on the fitness of defender Brennan Cox, who did not train on Thursday and will be given until game day to prove his fitness after suffering a minor ankle injury last Saturday against North Melbourne.
Teammate Luke Ryan also left the track early on Thursday for treatment in a worrying sign as the Dockers look to end a 10-game losing run against the Eagles.
Justin Longmuir's 4-2 team enter the clash in better form than their opponents, with three consecutive wins and a midfield unit being led superbly by Nat Fyfe and David Mundy.
The Eagles remain favourites for the clash, however, with Fremantle forward Travis Colyer suspecting the 97-point loss to Geelong would be an outlier in their season.
"If you look at West Coast's performances at home, they've been great," Colyer said.
"Even their away form – apart from on the weekend – they were in the game against the Bulldogs and probably should have beaten St Kilda.
"So their form has been really good and one game isn't going to define how they are as a footy team.
"Every team probably has an outlier in a season and maybe that was theirs on the weekend."