No end in sight for Heighington
He is first in line to join the NRL's illustrious 300 club in 2017 but Sharks back-rower Chris Heighington says he is not yet considering when his rugby league career will come to an end.
Cronulla teammate Paul Gallen is the only player in the NRL older than Heighington as the start of the Telstra Premiership nears with the 35-year-old on track to become the 26th player to play 300 games when the Sharks take on the Knights in Round 5.
After playing in all but one game in the Sharks' drought-breaking premiership season Heighington signed on for a fifth year in the Shire but hinted that it might not necessarily be his last.
"The body's feeling really good and I haven't had a reconstruction or anything so I'm still doing all the training every day and feeling really good. Why retire when you're feeling really good?" Heighington said.
"You never know what's going to happen in footy so I'm just taking each week with a good mindset.
"I really enjoy training, I really enjoy being around the boys so I'm just taking each week as it comes."
The only current players to have already reached the 300-game milestone are Storm pair Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, with Heighington to join a roll call of rugby league's greatest names.
Lockyer, Fittler, Menzies, Hindmarsh, Wiki and Civoniceva are just some of the 25 legends to have enjoyed such longevity and Heighington said that he would be honoured to join their ranks.
"I've won two grand finals and that's a team environment as a group but if I get to the 300 that will be a really good individual milestone for myself," said Heighington, who played 201 games for the Wests Tigers and needs just six more to play 100 for the Sharks.
"I'll feel very privileged if I get there but still a few games to go but the body's feeling really good so hopefully I can get there."
If he was to play all 24 games in the regular season Heighington would move past the likes of Steve Price, Luke Priddis and Hazem El Masri to sit in 11th position for most number of games in premiership history.
Although Heighington is on course to be the first player to 300 games in 2017 he certainly won't be the last.
Johnathan Thurston needs just eight more appearances to add that achievement to his incredible career, former Storm teammates Ryan Hoffman (286) and Billy Slater (278) could both get there while it has the potential to be a triple celebration of triple centuries at Cronulla with Luke Lewis (284) and Paul Gallen (279) also within reach.