It doesn’t get much better than Friday night footy and a blockbuster clash with Collingwood, and for reliable defender Ryan Gardner his 50th game will be one he always remembers.

The 26-year-old hasn’t had it all his own way this season with injury and form, but has carved out a fine beginning to a career that started as a Mid-Season Rookie draftee.

“It has been challenging,” Gardner told SEN.

"Having a few injuries earlier in the year – it’s a good thing for the team in a sense because it shows we’ve got plenty of players there that can play in those roles in the backline.


“Putting pressure on spots and making it more competitive.

“I’m starting to get a bit of fitness and form together – which is good to be back in the team, I just want to play my role.”

The addition of Liam Jones has only bolstered the key defensive stocks, with Gardner learning plenty in his time with Jones.

“Liam is just super professional, even at training,” he said.

“He always takes things at 100% with whatever he does and displays that on the field too, never giving up.

“He is a super competitive person. He’s been our best key defender and has played a pivotal role – getting him back at the end of the year will be massive for us.”