By Mitch Terpstra (NEAFL)
Canberra Demons captain Aaron Bruce will become the fourth player in NEAFL history to play 150 games when he runs out against Sydney University on Saturday at Phillip Oval.
Bruce made his NEAFL debut for Eastlake against the Sydney Swans in Round 2 of the inaugural 2011 season, and was named best on ground.
Since then, Bruce has become a five-time club leading goal kicker and has been named in the NEAFL Team of the Year twice (2011 and 2012).
Bruce will join the likes of Darren Ewing, Reece Toye and Cameron Ilett to reach the feat and is the first from the Canberra region, but the feeling has not quite sunk in yet.
“I haven’t had too much time to think about it, it will be really exciting heading into the match.” Bruce told neafl.com.au.
“It’s a special moment regardless of who else has done it, when you look at the other players that have done it, they are all great players.
“To be a foundation NEAFL player when it first came in the northern and eastern conferences and being a foundation player at Canberra, they are all pretty special moments.”
Bruce is currently fifth on the all-time goal kicking list of the NEAFL with 197 majors and says that his evolution as a player was largely changed since a knee injury in 2014.
“I am a different sort of player [compared to the player that debuted in 2011], I had a knee reconstruction which wiped out seven or eight games,” Bruce said.
“I certainly play differently to what I used to do. I used to play a lot more through the midfield and even played in defence through the early period of the NEAFL.
“But certainly, for the last three years I have played exclusively as a forward.”
Bruce began his NEAFL career with Eastlake, and became a foundation player for the Canberra Demons in 2016 when the club was formed.
Bruce, who became the club’s sole captain in 2017 after previously sharing the role with Jordan Harper, is proud to play an important role in the club’s progression up the ladder in its short history.
“I am super proud of the Canberra Demons program that we have been able to build since the northern and eastern conferences came together,” Bruce said.
“The fact that we have been able to build a program out of an amalgamation of multiple teams is something special.
“We started off with some rough results in the first season or two but to get some quality players together and to be a key part of that what was essentially building a new club from scratch effectively, is certainly something that I am be proud of.
”Whilst we probably haven’t had the flag success that some other clubs may have experienced over that period of time, it’s the friends and the journey that will last a lifetime.”
Bruce doesn’t have any plans to finish playing anytime soon, but would love to go out a NEAFL premiership player for the Canberra Demons.
“[A premiership is] certainly the ultimate goal in footy and something that I would love to achieve,” Bruce said.
“Being a realist, it obviously closer to the end then the start of my career. The opportunities will obviously begin to run out.
“I am also at the position that all things go right towards the end of this year. We may very well challenge or progress through to a couple of finals and into a grand final.”