Lachlan Keeffe celebrates after kicking a goal against the Bombers. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Lachlan Keeffe celebrates after kicking a goal against the Bombers. Picture. Phil Hillyard Philip Hillyard

Keeffe finally notches Giant AFL milestone

LACHIE Keeffe admits his 50th game milestone snuck up on him.

"I didn't even realise," the GWS Giants key position player said this week following game No.49.  

When the towering Queenslander runs out tonight against West Coast in Perth, it will be seven years, eight months and 20 days since he made his debut back in round16, 2011 with Collingwood.  

Granted it has taken about two years less than it took teammate Sam Reid, who played his 50th game last year, but it has taken Keeffe longer than most to reach the milestone.   

For Keeffe it's been a victory for perseverance.   

"It's been a long time coming," he said. "It's a fair effort to get to 50 games. Not everyone can achieve that goal."  

A soccer player from Gympie who boarded at "big rugby school" Marist College in Brisbane, Keeffe moved to Melbourne at 17 when Collingwood took a punt on him as a rookie. At 204cm, he was big and athletic but hadn't played competitive footy.  

His senior debut came three years later before a ruptured right anterior cruciate ligament forced his first extended stint on the sidelines.  

Lachlan Keeffe of Collingwood is seen to by the team doctor and later taken off the field of play after injuring his knee during round nine of the AFL, Adelaide Crows vs Collingwood, AAMI Stadium, Adelaide, Saturday, May 26, 2012. (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Keeffe is carted off after injuring his knee during his time with the Magpies. BEN MACMAHON

Keeffe was then handed a two-year suspension he would and fellow Magpie Josh Thomas tested positive to the banned substance clenbuterol.  

"I'm pretty open about it," Keeffe said.  "If you make your bed you sleep in it. If you've done something you shouldn't have done, you pay the cost. 

"(But) I won't sit here and say they were the worst two years of my life either."  

Keeffe had begun studying for his MBA in Melbourne before returning to Brisbane to live with his parents Matt and Karen and working with his Dad at an electrical engineering design firm.  

"I hadn't been home since I was 15," he recalled. "Most people move out when they're 25, I moved back in."  

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 10:  Lachlan Keeffe of the Magpies and Neile Balme the Director of Football speak to the media during a Collingwood Magpies AFL press conference at Westpac Centre on August 10, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. Thomas and Keeffe have accepted a two-year drug ban for taking the banned substance clenbuterol. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Keeffe copped a two-year ban in 2015 for taking a banned substance. Quinn Rooney

Keeffe was joined in Brisbane by fellow Queenslander Thomas.  

"We trained pretty hard, didn't let ourselves go," he said. "Kept fit, kept strong.  

"Lucky enough, Collingwood put their faith in me and Josh and kept us on the list."  

While Thomas is a key member of the Magpies' 22, Keeffe was let go at the end of the 2017 season without making another senior appearance, but he was handed a lifeline by the Giants.  

He played eight games last season - the first coming three years and 248 days after his last game for Collingwood while the last was a final against the Magpies.  

"When I first came to the club, it was put to me in no uncertain terms, you're not a high-profile recruit, you're not guaranteed a spot," Keeffe said.  

"But there's different examples of guys coming in in the same sort of fashion as myself and then trained well, played well and deserved their spot in the 22."  

The phone ban is intended to improve relationships and communication at the Giants. (AAP Image/Craig Golding)
Lachlan Keeffe is congratulated by temmates after booting a goal against Essendon. CRAIG GOLDING

If all goes according to plan, his next 50 games will come decidedly quicker than the first 50.  

"During the pre-season I set the goal of playing round one, and being in the best 22 for the whole year," Keeffe said.   "I want to be a part of this team that's pretty special I reckon. I want to play in a premiership.  

"I put in a pretty good pre-season, didn't miss any of the sessions. I felt good."  

While initially fearing another torn ACL - in his left knee - after going down early in the Giants' opening-round clash with Essendon, Keeffe returned to the field to kick three goals and contribute to the demolition job on the Bombers.

  "I trained all pre-season in the backline and started the game there," he said.  

Lachlan Keeffe of the Giants kicks a goal during the Round 1 AFL match between the GWS Giants and Essendon Bombers at the Sydney Showgrounds Stadium, Sunday, March 24, 2019. (AAP Image/Craig Golding) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Keeffe slots a goal in the season-opener against the Bombers. CRAIG GOLDING

"But I had a chat to (coach) Leon (Cameron) … he said, can you just go and sit in the goalsquare.  

"The boys were dominating the game so it made my job a whole lot easier, that's for sure."  

Keeffe is happy to play wherever the team needs him - just as long as he's getting a game.  

"I'm 28 now. I'm on a one-year contract at the moment so you've got to make every post a winner," he said.  

"I'm under no illusions that you just can't have too many lulls, or you'll get left behind pretty quick, especially in a team that's competing for a flag.  

"You've got to play well very every week to cement our your spot. I think I've started in the right manner, anyway."