He won two Jersey Flegg competitions with the Bulldogs before moving away to follow his first-grade dream, now Corey Payne is back where it all started and he couldn’t be prouder to bring up his 100th first grade game in the famous blue and white of Canterbury-Bankstown.

The Chester Hill Hornets junior always aspired to one day play for the Bulldogs and it is easy to see why. The Hornets was also the starting point for famous Bulldogs Terry Lamb and Geoff Robinson.

After collecting two Flegg Premierships under Kevin Moore at the start of his career, Payne is about to celebrate a century of top flight games. His rugby league journey has turned full circle.

After stints with St George Illawarra (2005-07) and Wests Tigers (2008-09), Payne has returned home and rates that feat as one of his career highlights.

“Probably just coming back to the bulldogs and establishing myself in the first grade team,” Payne told NRL.com.

“I always wanted to be a first grade player at the Bulldogs, being a local junior.

“I didn’t think that was going to happen when I left and went to the Dragons and then the Tigers. I’m very happy to be back at the Bulldogs and established in first grade at the club.”

Payne racks up his 100th game while teammate Michael Hodgson hits the magical 200. The pair joked to NRL.com that there was at least 300 games of experience coming off the bench this week.

“200 games this weekend, it has been a long journey,” Hodgson told NRL.com.

“I debuted back in 1998, a lot has happened in the game, a lot of changes and it is a great milestone.

“I started with Narromine Jets, that is where it all began.  I moved to Narromine  and to make friends I decided to play rugby league and it is amazing where paths and opportunities can lead you.

“Here I am 14 years on as a professional footballer.”

The Bulldogs take on the high flying Sea Eagles on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium in what shapes as a real yard-stick in their season. Canterbury-Bankstown may have won just one of their previous four matches, but believe they haven’t been far from their best.

“I think in those three losses we played the premiers, the Broncos who are going extremely well and the Raiders in the ACT on a Friday night,” Payne said.

“Three tough assignments and we weren’t far off in each three of those games.  

“Last Friday was a good win and it will put us in good stead and hopefully springboard us into a few more wins.

“It is extremely important that we win this week because we have the bye the following week, so we can have a four point turnaround, re-group after that bye and hopefully have a cracking end to the season and build momentum heading into the final series.”