Hartigan on the road to success after Truck collision

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Kyle Hartigan of the Crows handballs during the round two AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium on April 11, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 11: Kyle Hartigan of the Crows handballs during the round two AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Adelaide Crows at Etihad Stadium on April 11, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) Robert Cianflone

KYLE Hartigan can't speak highly enough of the work champion fullback Ben Rutten has done in mentoring him at Adelaide.

But there was that one incident last July when the 101kg goliath known as 'Truck' left the young defender a little worse for wear after colliding with him while both were playing for South Adelaide in the SANFL.

The 23-year-old spent three days in intensive care, and was out of action until the start of pre-season training at the Crows.

Thankfully, he can joke about it now.

"I literally got hit by a truck," he told APN ahead of the team's clash with Brisbane today at the Gabba.

"I was going back with the flight and he and (Port forward) John Butcher were coming out of the goalsquare and just collected me.

"I lacerated my spleen, broke three ribs and hurt my AC joint in my shoulder. It stung a bit. He cleaned me up good."

The pain Hartigan said he felt after his collision with the now retired Rutten was nothing like the suffering caused by being overlooked in three successive national drafts, however.

Though he has now replaced Rutten at fullback for the Crows, adding six games to the 10 he played in his first two seasons, the 194cm Hartigan had almost been resigned to the fact he would never get a chance at AFL level.

A dominant key defender in Victoria's TAC Cup as a bottom-aged player, he had failed to live up to the expectations placed on him the following season.

"When you're name doesn't get called out it hits pretty hard," he said. "You've got to pick yourself back up

"I think they (recruiters) wanted me to take my game to the next level - not only put my man away, but also get 25 possessions," he recalled.

"I was lucky enough that, out of the blue, the Crows gave me an opportunity."

He spent two seasons with VFL side Werribee, and eventually followed in the footsteps of fellow former Tigers Ben Hudson, James Podsiadly and Michael Barlow when rookie-listed in 2012.

Hartigan said Podsiadly, who joined him at Adelaide in 2014, had been an inspiration following his drafting by Geelong at the age of 28.

"We had a training night where we wear I local clubs guernseys," he said. " We wore our Werribee jumpers - it was good to put it back on."

Hartigan said those years doing the hard yards outside the AFL system was benefiting him now he was in it.

"People don't mature at the same age, some take a bit longer.

"If I had been 18 and pretty naive going into the AFL system I could have been spat out pretty quickly," he said.

"I learnt hard work from going into the work force and experiencing life - I had to do things for myself. I feel lucky I was able to do that."

After helping curb the influence of Hawk Jack Gunston last week, Hartigan is set for the job on either Daniel McStay or Matthew Leuenberger today, linking with the rock-solid Daniel Talia.

"McStay loves to jump at the footy. If he takes a few marks he can pile on the goals," he said.


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