EAST Fremantle defender and occasional forward Luke Weller has built an outstanding career for himself since arriving at the Sharks in 2007 and now the 30-year-old hopes to taste the ultimate to end his career on after deciding it will be all over at the end of 2012.
Weller came to East Fremantle from Queensland having spent time in the AFL with the Brisbane Lions and Richmond, and now six years later has won a fairest and best award, booked his name on the No. 19 locker and now more than anything wants to win a premiership in his final season.
The Sharks had to beat West Perth at home last Sunday to make sure of a finals appearance and it was a dominant performance from the start ending with a 103-point victory.
It was especially impressive with East Fremantle having to bounce back from a disappointing derby loss the previous week.
"Sometimes we gel and this week we gelled. That's what we have to get more consistently and we need more days where we control the football together and keep the pressure on. If we can do that, we are a chance to go a long way," Weller said.
"We knew that this was a critical game for us because we knew we needed the 12 wins to make sure we got a run in the finals.
"It was disappointing last week as well so the boys worked pretty hard on our structures leading into this game and wanted to come out in that first quarter pretty hard, which the boys did and it was good."
Weller arrived at East Fremantle looking to settle the as the club's centre half-forward in 2007. He kicked three goals on debut with the Sharks with a win over South Fremantle, but has made his reputation over 107 games with the Sharks as a defender that quite simply is near unbeatable.
He has been one of the best defenders now over the last five seasons and will retire at the end of 2012, but on Sunday he enjoyed the rare chance to go forward against West Perth. He kicked the first two goals and three for the game.
"I enjoy it up forward and if the mids are going well then it makes it a lot easier. In my first year here I started at centre half-forward, and it's always a tough gig, but it is refreshing to get there now and hopefully the boys keep pumping the ball out of the middle to give us a chance," he said.
"It certainly helps when you have Browny down back and then to get big JK back in to take a bit of the heat off. He certainly draws a few defenders every time he flies for the footy and the small players got reward from that because he brings the ball to ground and guys like Dick and Leslie benefitted from that."
East Fremantle made the finals in 2010 and lost a first semi-final at home to East Perth. The Sharks then looked set to play finals for most of 2011 before losing to Subiaco and South Fremantle in the last two rounds.
That stung everyone at East Fremantle and motivated them to bounce back in 2012. The first task is now done in qualifying for the finals and now Weller is looking to make the most of his second finals appearance with the Sharks.
"We wanted to be more consistent from last year and we thought we would have a good team, and we have matched it with the better teams this year. That was our aim and now we finish off with two games before having a real good crack at it," Weller said.
"We always said at the start of the year that we want to finish in the top-two. We need to win our last two now to still finish second and then still need to rely on things going our way, but we just have to make sure we win the next two games and East Perth will be a tough one."
While Weller did enjoy a rare move forward last Sunday against West Perth, with East Perth possessing Josh Smith, Zac Clarke, Adam Prior, Paul Johnson, Mat Seal and Michael Swan this week, it's more than likely he will back in his usual position.
"We'll see what happens. Some of the boys have been going real well. It's only Jano's (Scott Jansen) second game up with us and he's played well, and Tommy Howlett has made it his own down back this year," he said.
"With Doddy and Stevo, and Mitch Brown as well, then we have some height and depth back there so we will see how that pans out anyway."
East Fremantle and East Perth have had good battles over the years. This season alone saw the Sharks win by 64 points back in Round 17, but the Royals won by four points in Round 6 and did win the first semi-final at East Fremantle Oval back in 2010.
Weller is looking forward to what looks set to be another cracking battle at Medibank Stadium on Saturday especially with so much riding on the result with the loser giving up hope of finishing second and then looking unlikely to also finish third.
"We have had some real good match-ups against East Perth over the years and they are always tough battles," he said.
"Even when you get ahead they are never out of the game and keep coming, and they are a hard team with good experience. We just have to make sure we get our bodies right and control what we can control, and make sure we get the win."
Weller arrived at East Fremantle in 2007 and has never thought about leaving since. He has now racked up 107 games with the Sharks, won the 2010 Lynn Medal and feels it will be the highlight of his career once he retires.
"It's a credit to the club and all of the support staff here, the footy managers and coaches that I have played here as much as I have now," he said.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time over here and I love living here in Perth. My partner Lisa is over here with me now and we have settled right in. That's why I have been here for six years. I have enjoyed the footy in the WAFL and have loved my time."
Now that the 30-year-old has made the decision that 2012 will be his last season, he would love nothing more than to go out with a premiership and without question this is the best chance he's had at East Fremantle since being with the club.
"I'm happy with the team this year and when we gel I think we have the players that can do it. We just have to keep our heads screwed on, stick to the process and then if we can get somewhere in the finals, then I think we can give it a good shake," he said.
"I decided that this would be my last year. I sort of hinted at the start of the year that it would be to the coaches and they just told me to have a think about it. I have done that and I'm pretty happy with what I've done with footy.
"I've especially enjoyed my time here at East Fremantle. The first year I came they had been bottom of the ladder the year before so I think we have improved and hopefully this year we can achieve the ultimate, but there's still a lot of work to do."
Weller now has at least two home and away games and one final, hopefully more, left in his distinguished career.
While he went forward and did well last Sunday, he has been outstanding in defence once again all season long and he hopes to continue to go out playing well however long his career has to go this season.
"I would still like to finish the last few games well and that's what I am working on. I have been trying to keep training nice and hard on the track to get the most out of my last few games. If I can finish off by playing well then that would just make my day and make it all worthwhile," Weller said.
"It is a bit of a strange feeling. This could have been my last game on home turf and I was thinking about that a bit, but I'm just trying to take it as it comes. The good thing is that I will still have an involvement in footy.
"When you have been playing since you were seven years of age it is a big part of your life so I might take a bit of time to think about it, and then hopefully I can stay involved somehow. It has been part of my life for a lot of years and who knows, I might play amateurs or something again one day."