Luke Hodge admits he thought playing another game of football with his childhood friends might have passed him by, but is looking forward to pulling on the blue and yellow jumper for Learmonth in April.
The AFL great spoke with The Courier about his much-hyped appearance for the Lakies, where he will run out alongside mates Matt Jackson, Jake Carmody and Micah Buchanan against Rokewood-Corindhap.
For Hodge, it will be his first match since retiring from the elite level at the end of 2019.
"A lot of mates, considering we are 35, had already pulled the pin on football and have got little families and stuff like that so when Jacko said all the boys were thinking about it, I said if they got Micah and Carmo I'd commit which I didn't think was going to happen," Hodge said.
"It's going to be a bit of fun. It's Jacko's 100th game as well which I think was one of the main reasons why the boys were keen to do it."
Both Carmody and Buchanan have Victorian Football League experience and most recently played with Ocean Grove and Geelong Amateur respectively.
Clearances are in for all three players to join the Lakies.
"I got to play in Ballarat last year when the Lions took on the Doggies down there and it was about eight degrees so let's hope round one is a little bit warmer than what that was," he said.
"It's been 18 years since I was able to have a kick with a few mates that I grew up with so I'm looking forward to it."
The club is planning to allow Hodge to wear the 15 jumper he made famous at Hawthorn, with Jye Rich the current holder of that guernsey at Learmonth.
"I'm happy with whatever they give me, if whoever has got 15 wants to wear it then I'm not stressed with that. I'll wear whatever," he said.
"Getting back to country footy... it's something I grew up playing and loved. I think the best part about it is getting opportunity with a few schoolmates and mates that I've grown up with over the years.
"No doubt we will be having a bit of fun doing it... I'm just hoping the calves, the Achilles and the hamstrings hold out for the game."
A sub-committee has been established to prepare for the appearance of Hodge in the clash on Saturday, April 18 with a huge crowd expected to attend the fixture. It is being headed by former club president Matt Hines.
Hodge was drafted to Hawthorn as the number one pick in 2001 and won four premierships and two Norm Smith medals. He was All-Australian on three occasions and won the club's best and fairest award - the prestigious Peter Crimmins Medal - two times.
He left Hawthorn at the end of 2017 and played two seasons with the Brisbane Lions before retiring after 41 games.
Hodge was in Melbourne over the weekend to take part in the Bushfire Cricket Bash at the Junction Oval.