Jamie Elliott is Collingwood through and through.

Debuting in 2012, he played in a Preliminary Final is his 15th game and has seen just about it all in his 179 in total.

But despite a fast start, things haven’t always gone his way.

Injuries have been a major factor, forcing him to sit out of the entire season in both 2016 and 2018, with the latter’s run to that year’s Grand Final particularly hard to watch.

“At the start of everyone’s career you have these goals of playing a game or playing your first game and then solidifying your spot in the team, playing multiple games, 50 games, and my journey happened pretty quickly,” he said.

“Especially at the start, I got to 50 quickly and then I had a lot of injuries in ’16, ’17 and ’18, COVID in 2020 so I feel like from 50 to where I am it’s been a long journey.

“A lot of ups and downs and it’s been a long 12 years and the longer it’s gone on the more I’ve wanted it.”

So, when the medal was placed around his neck on the last day in September, all of his hard work was justified.

“I know I haven’t got many years left and to finally be able to say I’m a premiership player is pretty special,” he said.

“Reflecting on myself it’s just been a really tough slog to get to this moment but it’s all worth it in the end.

“This year is the most games I’ve played in a season so I felt like I was a part of it basically the whole year which is nice.

“Most years I’ve had an injury which I’ve been dealing with, my shoulder this year I only missed a couple of games but it wasn’t a significant injury that really held me back too much.

“To be a part of the whole year it just makes it even more special. When you’re part of it and you play all these games together you build a stronger connection with all these guys that you’re playing with.”

It’s no surprise then that Elliott has never enjoyed his football more.

Praising the coaching staff for their efforts, especially over the last two years, the 31-year-old feels as connected as he ever has in his 12 seasons.

“To actually play most games and stay connected with the group, especially over the last two years I haven’t been happier playing football,” he said.

“I come in every day looking forward to coming into the Club.

“We’ve got a special group, we showed that last year.

“We have so many close wins and close losses that people are questioning if it’s sustainable, but we just keep getting it done and this finals series, every win was single digit so the belief was there.

“I think that comes from the belief from within the group that stems from the staff, the coaches, Fly, they drill it in each week and reinforce good behaviours, they reinforce what we do so well.

“When you haver that belief throughout the week and then you train well, we were never satisfied and always wanting to get better and that was one thing that we kept saying.

“Then when you get to game day it just falls into place.”

Jamie Elliott’s 2023 stats:

  • Ranked elite in marks
  • Career best 39 goals
  • Career best 74 tackles
  • Ranked #2 for goals