Much-loved veteran Paddy Ryder is keen to extend his AFL career into an 18th season as he plays an integral role in St Kilda's finals push this year.
At 34, Ryder is in some of the best form of his life, putting him firmly in All-Australian contention.
The ruckman's contributions have been key to the Saints' (7-3) rise to fifth on the ladder ahead of Sunday's clash with North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.
Ryder, who has played 275 games since his debut in 2006, is on a one-year contract this season and sees no reason why he can't go around again in 2023.
An extension would put the magical 300-game milestone within reach.
"I've just got to keep my body in good nick," Ryder told Fox Footy on Monday night.
"Being so far into my career now, I know what I need to do to keep myself going. I've got that all down pat.
"I'll just take it year by year and at the end of the year I'll assess, but if I keep playing good footy then I'll just continue to play."
Amid pressure to perform, former Essendon and Port Adelaide ruckman Ryder thrives on the sheer enjoyment football gives him.
"The world's crazy out there, a lot goes on, but as footballers you can come to the club with your best mates to have a kick, enjoy (it), work hard," Ryder said.
"I still look at football like when I was a young kid.
"I have so much fun doing it and I just want to keep doing it forever."
Ryder spent time away from St Kilda in 2021 as he dealt with personal issues but feels safe and comfortable in the "family" environment fostered by coach Brett Ratten.
"It's based on care," Ryder said.
"Ratts talks about family down there and we want to create a family environment.
"I love that about the club and that's me as a person, I've got strong family values.
"All the other boys are starting to come through and shine a little bit because we're able to do that; show a bit of love to each other and appreciate each other."
Australian Associated Press
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