Adelaide midfielder Rory Laird has dealt with a few doubters along his football journey.
Labelled too small to make it at 177cm, Laird was forced to work even harder as a youngster, as he strived to reach his dream of playing at the highest level.
The now 28-year-old not only landed on an AFL list, but has become one of the Crows’ star performers, creating a list of accolades, including two-time Club Champion and two-time All Australian.
And this weekend, Laird will become part of a special group when he notches his 200th game.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Laird said he was proud to have defied the doubters and hit the milestone with the Crows.
“It’s a huge honour and I’m really proud to have played for one Club,” Laird said.
“The Adelaide Football Club gave me a chance as a 17-year-old off the rookie list and I wasn’t the biggest fella, I’m still not the biggest fella, but they gave me a chance and hopefully I've paid some of that back.
“I did (get told I was too small), early on, a few times and I heard that was the reason why a lot of clubs passed on me.
“That was where the prototype was a big, inside midfielder, so hopefully I’ve proved a few wrong.”
Laird’s career has gone from strength to strength since being drafted in 2011.
He won the Malcolm Blight Medal as Adelaide’s Club champion in 2018 and was named in the All-Australian team in both 2017 and 2018 in the back pocket and on the half-back line.
Then, last year, he graduated from defence into the midfield, becoming one of the competition’s best on-ballers and taking home his second Club Champion award.
Laird has also been enjoying a standout season in 2022, having played all 17 games so far and averaging 33.6 disposals.
He is ranked elite for tackles with an average of 8.4 per game and clearances (7.6).
“I’m really enjoying my time in the midfield,” Laird said.
“I obviously liked my time at half-back, too, but Matty Nicks swung me in there (the midfield) and haven’t looked back.
“I am really enjoying the young guys we’ve got in there at the moment, too, with (Sam) Berry, (Harry) Schoenberg and (Jake) Soligo, working with them keeps me on my toes.”
Laird said he wanted to keep the build up to his 200th low-key with the focus on playing well and beating West Coast.
But he was keen to take the moment in with his family who were travelling to Perth for the game.
“I said to Nicksy and Adam Kelly that I want to try and keep it as normal of a week as possible,” Laird said
“The underlying point is I actually want to be able to play and perform properly.
“But when there’s a milestone of 200 games and even 150 that I had a couple of years ago, it always sits there with you.
“I just want to make my family and friends proud and the footy club proud and most importantly win two on the trot.”
Adelaide takes on West Coast at Optus Stadium on Sunday, with the first bounce at 3.40pm (ACST).