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Milestones on the horizon

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The 2018 season saw 17 Bombers reach milestones throughout the year, and several Dons could be in line to do the same in 2019. 

Headlining the list of possible milestones next year is midfielder David Zaharakis, the club’s most experienced player with 10 years at the top level under his belt.

Having already played the most senior games of any Bomber on the list, the on-baller is well within reach of becoming the squad’s only 200-game player.

2018 Crichton Medallist Devon Smith and his former GWS teammate Dylan Shiel are also closing in on significant milestones, with a number of other teammates hoping to join them with a clear run in the senior side.

POSSIBLE MILESTONES (2019 home-and-away season):

David Zaharakis – 200 games

Current games: 187 

An ultimate professional, Zaharakis’ durability has been the hallmark of his career. The 28-year-old has rarely missed significant game time in his 10 seasons as a Bomber, crediting gruelling off-season training at high altitude in Colorado with his consistency in recent years. The most experienced veteran on the list is on track to reach the double century in the round 14 clash with West Coast at Optus Stadium.

Dylan Shiel – 150 games

Current games: 135

Popular new Bomber who arrives at The Hangar with plenty of experience under his belt after a stellar start to his career with GWS. The tough midfielder has secured his position among the league’s top on-ballers in his seven seasons to date, and Shiel can reach his 150th senior game in round 16 against Sydney in front of a passionate home crowd at the MCG. 

Devon Smith – 150 games

Current games: 131

Another former Giant, Devon Smith certainly made his presence felt in his first season at the club, claiming the 2018 Crichton Medal after a sensational year in the midfield. His 22-game haul was the most matches he has played in a single season and his consistency proved vital throughout the year. Now one of the club’s most experienced senior players, Smith is on track to get to his 150-game milestone in round 20 against Port Adelaide at Marvel Stadium. 

Kyle Langford – 50 games

Current games: 47 

After a slow start to the 2018 season, Kyle Langford strung together 14 senior games to finish the year in an impressive display of his exciting talent. Working tirelessly to develop his midfield prowess, Langford secured his position in the senior side and will look to continue to add to his tally next year, possibly reaching his 50th AFL game in round three against Melbourne at the MCG. 

James Stewart – 50 games

Current games: 45

After breaking through impressively to claim a top-22 spot during his first year as a Bomber in 2016, Stewart was unable to match that 16-game haul this year, failing to return to the side after playing in the first 11 rounds. While there will likely be plenty of competition for spots in the forward line in 2019, Stewart is a proven and reliable goalkicker who can play his 50th game at Marvel Stadium against North Melbourne in round five should things go his way. 

Andrew McGrath – 50 games

Current games: 41 

Despite entering just his third season, fans could be excused for thinking Andrew McGrath has been around for much longer. A composed and classy player, McGrath has already chalked up 41 senior games, having quickly claimed a position in the senior line-up. The youngster is set to reach his 50th game in round nine against Fremantle at Marvel Stadium. 

Kyle Langford and Andrew McGrath are set to reach their 50-game milestones in 2019. (Photo: AFL Media)

Michael Hartley – 50 games

Current games: 41

After putting together 37 games in his first two seasons at The Hangar, Michael Hartley was only able to add four senior matches to his tally in 2018. A victim of the club’s impressive key-defensive depth, the backman performed well throughout the year to deservedly earn a new contract. Like McGrath, Hartley may get the chance to reach the milestone against the Dockers in round nine. 

Jayden Laverde – 50 games

Current games: 30

It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Jayden Laverde throughout his career to date, but a late-season breakthrough in the final round of 2018 – where he booted three first-quarter goals – could be a strong sign that he is ready to put a big season together. Laverde is yet to tally more than nine games in any season, but he will start 2019 with a new guernsey number and could possibly reach his 50th game in round 21 against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium. 

Yet to debut:

Irving Mosquito

Jordan Houlahan

Brandon Zerk-Thatcher

Noah Gown

Brayden Ham

Sam Draper

Trent Mynott

Luke Lavender

Tom Jok 

Four players broke through for their senior debuts in 2018, six reached their 50th game, five Bombers played in their 100th and Dyson Heppell and Michael Hurley claimed Life Membership from the club with their 150th matches.