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Game that defines McQueen's milestone

It is the game that made him question whether he would celebrate his 150th this week or next and now Titans back-rower Chris McQueen sees the 80 minutes he spent on the bench in 2012 as the defining moment of his career.

McQueen has suited up for 150 games in his nine years in the NRL to date but as he failed to get onto the field against the Bulldogs in Round 13, 2012 whilst playing for the Rabbitohs it didn't count towards his tally, causing the self-confessed footy nerd some confusion this week.

But after conducting his own research and with receiving confirmation from the NRL's No.1 statistician David Middleton that the Bulldogs game of 2012 has not been included in statistical records for his total number of games, this is indeed game No.150.

"I didn't actually realise it was my 150th, I thought it was next week," McQueen said.

"I had a Bulldogs game when I was at the Rabbitohs where I sat on the bench for the whole time and I wasn't sure if people were counting that or not and I've never counted it.

"It wasn't until [Tuesday night] that I actually saw the Titans post something and I went and had a look from when I played my 100th game.

"I counted all the games since then and it actually worked out that it was my 150th."

‌It was new Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire's belief that McQueen could be better used in the back row rather than on the wing that saw the former Kingaroy Red Ant spend time in reserve grade as he built his physical base for a future in the forwards.

That Bulldogs game would have been his 35th in the top grade but having not gotten any game time he was sent back to reserve grade 24 hours later and two weeks after that took the most significant step towards becoming a bona fide back-rower.

"I actually questioned 'Madge' (Maguire) after that Bulldogs game," the 29-year-old recalled.

"[Eddy] Pettybourne got hurt in the warm-up and I came into the team as 18th man and sat on the bench for the whole game.

"We lost by five points and I thought maybe I could have made a difference. Put me back on a wing and I could do a job but Madge just knocked it on the head and said it wasn't going to happen.

"I had to go back and play reserve grade the next day because I didn't get on the field, and we had a good win. I played a good game and that's when I came back up into first grade and played regular first grade since then.

"When I came back up into first grade against Parramatta [in Round 15] I played the whole 80 and that was the first time I played 80 minutes as a back-rower and that's when I was like, 'Yeah, I think I'm a back-rower now'."

McQueen's move into the back row was just the latest in a lengthy line of 'sliding doors' moments that could have sent the wild-haired winger from Wynnum on a vastly different path.

When Wynnum Colts coach Jon Buchanan scheduled a training session on a bye weekend McQueen had to choose between getting his second tattoo or attending the training session: "He put me on the spot and gave me a decision to make. I think made the right decision."

At the end of the 2008 season he received contract offers from both South Sydney and Manly, his decision to carry on wearing the red and green paying dividends when the club re-signed him despite two knee reconstructions and just four games in his first two seasons at Redfern.

He played six Origins for Queensland whilst at the Rabbitohs and won the 2014 premiership and when he was squeezed out to accommodate the return of Sam Burgess moved to the Gold Coast at the end of 2015. He has missed only one game since, adding a Test for England to his resume last weekend.

"He's probably been the most consistent player we've had in our squad," said Titans winger Anthony Don of McQueen who will be at the Wests Tigers for the next three years.

"He's not the star every week but he's definitely the most consistent. He's been a great contributor to the club.

"We probably won't realise how much we'll miss him until he's gone. He's a great guy to have around the club and a senior player who enforces the rules so we're definitely going to miss him."


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