Tom Hawkins knows the end is near.
He knows whether his Hall of Fame-worthy career should extend beyond 2024 will be the subject of discussion.
However, the 35-year-old Geelong spearhead isn’t losing too much sleep about the external noise that will linger during his 18th AFL season.
“People are open to have their suggestions on how they see my career finishing up – both face-to-face and publicly – and how the team’s going,” Hawkins told K rock Football.
“It would just wear me down, and history shows that if I put too much time and energy into it … I’m aware I’m at the backend of my career.
“I’m a player that’s always embraced the challenges, but I’ve also embraced the fun, which, I reckon, has allowed me to play in the game for so long.
“I’ll continue to do that, and I think I’ll know when the time’s right (to retire), but it’s certainly not at the moment.
Hawkins, who enters the season on 347 games, just eight short of great mate Joel Selwood’s club record of 355, is confident he can still have an impact despite turning 36 in July.
Since turning 30, he has kicked 309 of his 781 career goals from 122 games, being held goalless on 11 occasions.
“I’ve decided to play on this year because I think I’ve still got a lot to offer,” Hawkins said.
“If I get to the end of this year and still think I’ve got plenty to offer again, and then the following year, I’ll keep playing because it’s a game I love a lot.
“It’s a great industry, a great profession, so I want to be in for as long as I can.
“But, I’m under no illusion if I’m not performing, I won’t be there.
“I don’t see the end just yet, but we’ll wait and see.”
Hawkins has also played down the drawn-out nature of his contract negotiations, with just over seven weeks between the completion of Geelong’s 2023 season and the announcement of a new deal.
Some post-season reports had the player and club far from on the same page during talks, with Hawkins linked to a move to Melbourne.
“Historically, contracts have happened quite quickly for me,” he said.
“The fact it had been drawn out was that, as a senior player, the club needs to do some due diligence, and then it happens quite quickly.
“There was just a little bit of toing and froing, but really, honestly, not much.
“I think it got a little blown out of context.
“There was never much in it as was reported.”