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Burgoyne still finds failure has a bitter taste

Date: November 05 2012


Jon Pierik

MORE than a month has elapsed since the AFL grand final but Shaun Burgoyne understands no amount of time will ever erase the stinging memory of Hawthorn's defeat.

''It's something now that you are just going to have to live with for the rest of your life,'' the slick half-back said.

''Obviously, it was a great achievement to make it [grand final]. It was very unfortunate we couldn't get across the line and cap the year off. Over time, we will look back and think it was a missed opportunity.''

That, it was, although this in no way denigrates the tenacity of Sydney in willing itself to a memorable victory.

For the Hawks, there would be only despair. Brad Sewell, who may well have been the North Smith medallist had his team prevailed, recently admitted to playing the closing moments over and over in his mind.

Burgoyne, 30, knows the frustration will linger, as it has since 2007 when he was then a part of the Port Adelaide team mauled by Geelong on that final Saturday of September.

''That was very unfortunate as well. It's something that I think about every now and then,'' he said.

''It's one of those things that I think I will just have to live with.''

The Cats quickly took control of that contest, eventually winning by 119 points.

This year, though, the Hawks had momentum in a stunning third term and led the Swans by two goals early in the fourth before wayward kicking for goal would prove costly.

Is the pain of defeat worse when your team was almost over the line?

''They are probably the same,'' Burgoyne said. ''You are in there, it's a 50-50 game and we ended up losing. They both hurt the same.''

Burgoyne, working feverishly, had four clearances alone in the opening 20 minutes of the final quarter against the Swans but that would not be enough to guarantee victory.

He would finish the afternoon with 21 possessions, including 13 contested, eight tackles and as one of the Hawks' better players - but without what he really craved.

It's this memory Burgoyne will use to drive himself through the summer slog, although with three young children, including three-month-old daughter Leni, there are welcome distractions.

This was one reason why he has opted to have his daughter's name and footprint inked on his inner bicep by renowned artist Corey Miller, as part of the Tattoo and Body Art Expo.

''When I was asked to get a tattoo, I jumped at the chance. I am a fan of his work,'' Burgoyne said.

He already has the names of his two boys, Ky and Percy, stamped on his stomach, which helps the family share in a laugh.

''When they see the tattoo on my stomach, they [the boys] always look at them and have a laugh,'' Burgoyne said.

''It makes them very happy. Let's hope she [Leni] does the same when she is a bit older.''

What would have made Burgoyne even happier would have been to have had a tattoo of the 2012 premiership cup.

That, he hopes, has been delayed only by a year. The Hawks hope the addition of Brian Lake will prove to be the missing piece.

The former Western Bulldog and All-Australian full-back will be entrusted, when necessary, to go one out against the league's premier marking forwards. The Hawks had required a defender, often Josh Gibson, to leave his man and help an undersized teammate in the key defensive post, but with Lake that may now not be so prevalent.

''He is a very big guy and he can help take the big guys back there,'' Burgoyne said.

''Hopefully, he can bring some of his best footy. We are looking for some of his leadership as he has been around for a while.''

Burgoyne is already a leader, both in terms of helping teammates and his indigenous brethren in the league. He sits on the indigenous players' advisory board established by the AFL and the AFL Players Association. He looks forward to their next meeting.

''We have had a couple of guys leave over the last year or so. Obviously, Xavier Clarke, Chance Bateman and Roger Hayden retired, so we will have to replace them and talk about what we want to accomplish in the upcoming year or two years,'' he said.

''We have the indigenous camp coming up, which will be a very good chance for us to catch up and have a talk as a whole.

''I think we will be talking about everything. How we can help players settle in, help players continue their career path during the AFL ranks. We want to help all clubs in their treatment of indigenous players.''

In the twilight of his career, Burgoyne knows time is short, in terms of making greater contributions on and off the field. He did help deliver the 2004 flag to Port Adelaide, but joined Hawthorn to experience another.

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