DAVID Mirra personifies persistence.
And that persistence paid off on Monday night.
Eight years after he was first draft eligible, Mirra’s AFL dream was realised, thanks to the club he’d been under the nose of for nearly seven seasons.
Hawthorn selected Mirra, the veteran of its VFL affiliate — the Box Hill Hawks — on Monday night with Pick 23 in the rookie draft.
During his time at Box Hill, Mirra had seen a handful of teammates be picked up by AFL clubs, including Cameron Pederson, Sam Collins and, as recently as Friday night, Sam Switkowski.
Yet Mirra was always overlooked, despite his array of VFL achievements that included a premiership medallion in 2013 and four VFL team of the year honours.
But the star defender not only continued to lead his club from the front superbly, but constantly produced brilliant individual efforts.
And after a stunning 2017 campaign, which saw Mirra averaged 19 disposals, 78 per cent kicking efficiency and five marks, he could no longer be ignored.
Hawthorn recruiting and list management boss Graham Wright paid tribute to Mirra’s workrate and determination after the rookie draft.
“David has been an outstanding player at VFL level for a long period of time so we are rapt to have him on our list for 2018,” Wright said.
“He is proof that hard work and determination really pays off and that it is never too late to realise your dream of playing at AFL level.
“He has a great understanding of our structures and game play through our affiliation with Box Hill so this will be a great asset he can bring to the club.”
Mirra joined Box Hill as a 19-year-old, remaining loyal to the VFL club and developing into one of its great ambassadors.
After two seasons with the Hawks, he was added into the team’s leadership group. Two years after that, he was appointed captain. And during his four seasons in charge, Box Hill featured in three VFL grand finals.
The close relationship between Box Hill and Hawthorn has meant Mirra has developed ties with many important figures at senior level, including coach Alastair Clarkson.
Mirra was at Waverley Park when he was officially taken by the Hawks, so Clarkson was quick to find the smooth-moving defender upon hearing the news.
Clarkson greeted Mirra with a warm embrace.
“Persistence and perseverance knows no failure, mate,” Clarkson said.
He then cheekily asked Mirra if he had a passport, as the Hawks are bound for a pre-season training camp in New Zealand next week. Mirra admitted he doesn’t have one.
Of the taken during Friday’s national draft and Monday’s rookie draft that weren’t previously on an AFL list, 24 were ‘mature-age players’ aged between 19 and 26.
Mirra is the oldest of that list — and, arguably, the most deserving.