The Brisbane Lions has been a hard team to break into during the 2020 AFL season with the team primed for premiership contention.
After playing two matches last season, Mundulla's Mitchell Hinge had to wait until Round 17 to add to his career tally.
Hinge was selected in the Lions' 32 point win against the Sydney Swans at Cazaly's Stadium last Sunday.
After waiting so long for the call-up, he made the most of his opportunity, finishing the game with 13 disposals, three tackles and 203 metres gained.
Speaking to the Border Chronicle, Hinge always believed he had a realistic chance of getting a call-up before finals.
The side's great year to date has resulted in a high level of competition for spots, and Hinge was one of many Lions players ready to take their opportunity if they were called upon.
"The senior side is going really well at the moment - you watch them win and you think 'I really want to be a part of that," Hinge said.
"For me, the biggest thing is to keep motivated - there's always someone each year that finds their way into the team around finals, and I want that person to be me."
With the North East Australian Football League (NEAFL) not taking place this season, many Lions players have relied on organised scratch matches to remain match fit and showcase their form.
"There is a lot more space during the games, and there is often more chances to win uncontested possessions," Hinge said.
Listed at 190cm and gifted with a strong left-foot kick, the former Mundulla Tiger has been an emergency for the Lions AFL side many times with the last coming in their Round 16 clash against the Gold Coast Suns.
Hinge said that he has received significant praise from his coaches. He excelled on the wing and at half-back.
With talented Mitch Robinson and Hugh McCluggage holding onto the wing spots in the Lions side, Hinge returned to the side as a half-back flanker.
While motivated to add more games to his three-match career, Hinge said that at the start of the season it looked unlikely that the entire competition would even take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At half-time of the Lions' Round 1 clash against Hawthorn, players were told that the season would be suspended, leaving many unsure whether a return was feasible.
Hinge returned home to Mundulla after the news of the league being suspended, using the break to spend quality time with loved ones.
"I went back to Mundulla and stayed with the family - it gave me an opportunity to help dad on the farm and catch up with some people I haven't talked to in a while," Hinge said.
"It was also great to have 'Linc' (Lincoln McCarthy) back down at Bordertown - we did a lot of training together and it probably allowed us to push each other."
Since returning back to Brisbane from Mundulla, Hinge has failed to put a foot wrong, and with another condensed fixture taking place over the past two weeks, Hinge finally earned his long-awaited AFL call-up.
The Lions' final match of the home and away season will be against Carlton on Saturday night at the Gabba.
With a top two spot on the ladder guaranteed and the finals series fast-approaching, Hinge hopes he can hold his place in the Lions' lineup as they look to win their first premiership since 2003.
Many Tatiara locals will be hoping that Hinge retains his place in the side when they take on the Blues.
Selection for this week's game will take place on Friday night.