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Luke Douglas in action for Cronulla in the game that still haunts him.

Game No.1 was for the Sharks against a star-studded Broncos outfit; game No.100 was a loss to the Warriors, game No.200 a rare Titans win over Brisbane but as he prepares for game No.250 on Sunday there is one game that still haunts Luke Douglas to this day.

It was game No.74 of a career now in its 11th season and was an agonising exit in finals football, a place Douglas has been unable to visit again in the seven years that have since passed.

The Sharks had turned out more fancied teams in their history with names with far more cache than those who played under Ricky Stuart in 2008 but they went on a winning run that saw them finish the regular season on top of the table equal with Melbourne and Manly.

For the first time since 2001 they hosted a finals match at home with more than 18,000 fans cramming into what was then known as Toyota Stadium to see their team smash the Raiders 36-10.

To this day it is the only finals win of Douglas's career and when the eighth-placed Warriors knocked off the Storm in Melbourne the Sharks were suddenly one win away from the grand final.

They had the week off and organised a training camp in Kiama when a piece of misfortune struck that Sharks fans will tell you could only happen to them.

"We were playing a game of soccer for warm-up and Danny Nutley was going for a ball with Brett Seymour and they knocked each other and Brett did his ACL," Douglas recalled ahead of the Titans' clash with South Sydney in Perth on Sunday.

"We hadn't been to the finals too often and there'd never been a premiership so there started to be a really good feeling amongst the Sharks supporters and the whole Shire.

"Then all of a sudden we were down our star halfback who was in some awesome form."

Despite their plans being in disarray the Sharks had the advantage of playing the Storm in Sydney in the Preliminary Final when Douglas said they made their biggest mistake.

Although this particular Cronulla team boasted names such as Gallen, Kimmorley and Ben Ross, there were youngsters such as Brett Kearney, Blake Green, Misi Taulapapa and Kade Snowden who were in their first finals series.

The Sharks were one win from a grand final and fans flooded in from the Shire to the Sydney Football Stadium eager to see their team progress but Douglas admits now that they got completely caught up in the atmosphere.

"We didn't warm up out on the field and it was probably the worst thing that we did because when we got out there we got overawed," said the 30-year-old.

"There was limited finals experience in our team and we really struggled with the whole occasion.

"There was a heap of noise so calls were hard to hear, it was a packed stadium and it was probably 90 per cent Sharks fans. They'd all made the trip over and we ended up getting smashed.

"You create such a high and then to just plummet out getting beat 28-0 was a bit of a bummer and to go from such a high to getting pumped was pretty ordinary."

It's why a return to finals footy burns so deep now. On the back of two wins and a bye the Titans are in position to push for a top eight finish in the second half of the season and earn a finals berth for the first time in six years.

"It's a long way away," Douglas said of a potential top eight finish.

"We're just trying to build on what we've done so far but I know if I get another opportunity that I wouldn't take it for granted. They don't come around too often."

The man who holds the NRL record for most consecutive games played with 215 is contracted for a further season on the Gold Coast and will then weigh up whether he and his impending family will stay in Australia or pursue opportunities to finish his career in England.

"I've got one more year here and I don't know what the future will hold," said Douglas.

"I've always had in the back of my mind the possibility of going to England but I've got a family on the way now so best case scenario would be to stay in Australia and here (the Gold Coast) is the pick of them all."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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