IT’S no coincidence that Jindera’s Brett Wightman has played almost 300 games straight without injury.
Entering his sixth season with the Bulldogs, Wightman still amazes those inside the kennel with his work rate on the training track and his unrivalled game-day preparation.
Despite recently turning 34, Wightman still tackles pre-season training with the same enthusiasm as an AFL rookie and is reaping the dividends.
Wightman will notch his 100-game milestone with the Bulldogs at the weekend after previous stints with home club Queanbeyan, Albury, St Mary’s and Thurgoona.
It continues his astonishing run of consecutive appearances after missing just one match — through work commitments — in 14 seasons.
“I have always been a believer in that the harder you work, the luckier you get,” Wightman said.
“But to rack up 100 games at one club has been a long time coming for me and made it a long pre-season knowing I was on 99 games.
“It’s a great feeling because I grew up in Queanbeyan where they make a really big deal out of milestone matches.
“It’s something I always wanted to achieve and circumstances change.
“To do it at Jindera is special to me because I now consider Jindera my home club.
“I should notch up 300 senior games at some stage this season but I just have to sit down and work out exactly when.
“I’m proud to say I’ve played so many matches without injury. I’m fairly meticulous in my preparation.
“I tend to eat the same foods leading into match-day and recovery is super important to me.”
There has been plenty of highlights along the way with Wightman playing in back-to-back flags with Queanbeyan in 1999 and 2000 alongside the Bulldogs most recent flag triumph in 2011.
The classy midfielder is also a dual best-and-fairest winner at both Thurgooona (2006-07) and Jindera (2009-12) as well as winning Queanbeyan’s highest individual honour in 2002.
Wightman is also captaining the Bulldogs for the third successive year.
The Jindera football and netball club is a real family affair for Wightman with his wife, Alison, also winning multiple flags and best and fairests with the Bulldogs.
She has also previously been president of the netball club.
“Winning the flag in 2011 is the obvious highlight for me while being named captain was also a huge buzz,” he said.
“Alison was the main reason I joined Jindera and, ever since we walked into the place, we have been widely accepted and it’s been fantastic.
“Both winning flags in 2011 capped a huge week for us because we found out Alison was expecting our first child in the lead-up to the grand final.”
Wightman said he had no intentions of hanging up the boots any time soon.
“I intend to play for as long as by body and my wife allow it,” he said.
“I look at a lot of guys and think that they retired way too early.
“I’ve played since I was four and still love playing each week and, hopefully, I’ve got a few more seasons left in me.”
Coach Josh Walker said Wightman was an obvious choice as captain with the way he goes about his football.
“You would love to have another 10 guys like him in the side,” Walker said.
“He is obviously well respected being captain, premiership player and dual best-and-fairest winner.
“He is tough, never shirks an issue and leads by example — all the qualities you want in a captain.”