At 25 Hugh McCluggage is not even halfway through his AFL career.

But let’s just say he is. How might McCluggage have reflected at the unofficial halfway mark of his career over the bye weekend.

Given his ever-humble approach, probably not very much. But others will say he’s had a phenomenal start to his career, and statistically at least is set in the second half of his career to challenge the very best of Lions players all-time.

McCluggage went into the mid-season break fresh from a significant career milestone in Round 11, having become just the 16th player in club history to 3000 possessions in his 141st game.

Only two players have been quicker to 3000 possessions – Tom Rockliff (115 games) and Simon Black (134 games). And at 25 years 86 days McCluggage was the fifth youngest behind Rockliff (24/175), Nigel Lappin (24/361), Michael Voss (25/16) and Black (25/42).

Double 3000 and McCluggage finds himself in the truly elite of the club. Only Simon Black (7580) and Michael Voss (6143) have had more than 6000 possessions, while Nigel Lappin (5911), Luke Power (5884), Marcus Ashcroft (5848), Daniel Rich (5618) and Dayne Zorko (5060) have topped 5000.

McCluggage, in the All-Australian squad in each of the past four years without winning a spot in the team, has been nothing if not durable through his six and half years with the Lions.

So durable that his weekend off over the bye was just the 13th of his entire career in-season. And, in proof of his remarkable durability, he’s only had two free weekends of his own doing.

Of his 13 football-free weekends, McCluggage has had seven scheduled byes in the home-and-season like last weekend, two byes during finals campaigns in 2020 and 2022, and has missed just four games.

In his first season, as is the norm with younger players, he was ‘rested’ and ‘managed’ once each, and in five and a half years since then he’s twice missed with a hamstring problem.

Drafted at pick #3 in 2016, behind Essendon’s Andrew McGrath at #1 and GWS’ Tim Taranto (now at Richmond) at #2, McCluggage has been a statistical standout among his peers.

He ranks first for games from the Class of 2016, ahead of Geelong #40 Tom Stewart (136) and Sydney pick #11 Ollie Florent (129), is a close #2 for possessions, seven behind Tarranto, and with 34 Brownlow Medal votes he is first ahead of Taranto (34) and Richmond pick #29 Shai Bolton (31).

He is seventh overall and the highest-ranked midfielder for goals with 87, behind only North Melbourne’s Nick Larkey (150), Sydney’s Will Hayward (146), North’s Cam Zurhaar (127), Bolton (114), Port Adelaide’s Todd Marshall (113) and Hawthorn’s Mitch Lewis (97).

And, having finished third in the Merrett/Murray Medal in 2019-20 and second in 2021-22, he has had more two three best & fairest finishes than any other 2016 draftee.

Coincidentally, as the close bond between McCluggage and teammate Jarrod Berry almost commands, Berry, too, went into the bye coming off a significant milestone.

In his 119th game against Adelaide, Berry, drafted with schoolmate and close friend McClugagge in 2016, reached 2000 AFL possessions. He was the 40th player among 345 all-time.