The 'puppy' who reached 300
These days he's among the most assured players running around in rugby league, but Warriors coach Stephen Kearney recalls that wasn't always the case for Ryan Hoffman.
Ahead of the 33-year-old forward's 300th NRL Telstra Premiership match this Saturday night against the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium, Kearney took the opportunity mid-week to simultaneously poke fun and pay tribute to a man he has worked alongside as both a teammate and coach.
"I was very fortunate that when I was getting towards the back end of my playing career at Melbourne that Ryan joined the club then (in 2003) as a young guy," Kearney said.
"He was my little puppy dog, followed me around the gym and what have you, so I was sort of given that responsibility to look after him.
"Even then he had a real determination and a real drive to get the best out of himself and I think he has done a wonderful job to get to 300 games this weekend.
"It's a testament to the way he goes about his business. He is a true professional.
"He still looks in as good a condition as he did when he was a 19-year-old at Melbourne way back then."
Hoffman will become just the 27th player to reach 300 appearances, and the third to do it while at the Warriors, following on from Ruben Wiki and Steve Price.
It's likely he would have reached the record even sooner had it not been for a year spent in the Super League with Wigan in 2011.
Veteran lock Simon Mannering, the next closest Warrior to achieving the triple century of appearances (currently sitting on 269), said Hoffman was a player you could always rely on.
"He just turns up week in, week out and does a job," Mannering said.
"That's the sort of player who reaches that milestone. This is a game of consistency, if you continually do your job you rack up those sort of numbers.
"I have only played alongside Ryan the last couple of seasons, but anyone who can bring up a milestone like that has obviously got a lot of toughness mentally and physically."
While Hoffman has been told his contract won't be renewed at the Warriors next year, if he continues to play in 2018 he will add to a career which already has an impressive record of success.
He played in the NRL finals in 10 of his 11 seasons at Melbourne, with 2010 when the club was stripped of their competition points for salary cap breaches being the only exception, while he won a Premiership with the Storm in 2012.
Current teammate Jacob Lillyman, who also spent numerous seasons coming up against Hoffman at club and State of Origin level, told NRL.com he is a player who is held in the highest regard around the competition, and one who always leaves his mark on a team.
"You look at the esteem he is held in at Melbourne by everyone there, that speaks volumes," Lillyman said.
"He is a great leader, a team man and he has added a lot of value to every team he has ever played in. He ticks all the boxes does 'Hoffy' and his record speaks for itself."
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg congratulated Hoffman on the milestone.
"Ryan has achieved an enormous amount over the course of his career," NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
"He has represented NSW as well as Australia, while he has also captained his Club.
"He is an inspiring player and leader through his actions and the way he carries himself on and off the field.
"On behalf of all Rugby League fans I congratulate him on this achievement."
THE 300 CLUB (26 players)
App Player Club/s Years
355 Darren Lockyer Brisbane 1995-2011
350 Terry Lamb Wests, Canterbury 1980-1996
349 Steve Menzies Manly, Northern Eagles 1993-2008
347 Corey Parker Brisbane 2001-2016
346 Cameron Smith Melbourne 2002-2017
336 Brad Fittler Penrith, Sydney Roosters 1989-2004
332 Cliff Lyons Norths, Manly 1985-1999
330 Nathan Hindmarsh Parramatta 1998-2012
328 Andrew Ettingshausen Cronulla 1983-2000
325 Geoff Gerard Parramatta, Manly, Penrith 1974-1989
318 Jason Croker Canberra 1991-2006
317 Hazem El Masri Bulldogs 1996-2009
315 Paul Langmack Canterbury, Wests, Easts 1983-1999
315 Luke Priddis C'berra, B'bane, P'rith, St George Ill 1997-2010
313 Steve Price Bulldogs, Warriors 1994-2009
313 Brent Kite St George Illawarra, Manly, Penrith 2002-2015
313 Cooper Cronk Melbourne 2004-2017
312 Ruben Wiki Canberra, Warriors 1993-2008
309 Petero Civoniceva Brisbane, Penrith 1998-2012
307 Brett Kimmorley N’castle, H'ter, Mel, N Eag, C'lla, C’bury 1995-2010
306 Chris Heighington Wests Tigers, Cronulla 2003-2017
303 Anthony Watmough Northern Eagles, Manly, Parramatta 2002-2015
302 Anthony Minichiello Sydney Roosters 2000-2014
301 Luke Ricketson Sydney Roosters 1991-2005
300 Scott Prince North Qld, B'bane, Wests Tig, G'd Coast 1998-2013
300 John Morris N'castle, P'matta, Wests Tigers, C'nulla 2001-2014