You don’t need me to tell you, the length of an NRL career is about as unpredictable as the game itself.
When I first joined Big League four years ago there were only a handful of players who had joined the 300-game club. Literally around 10 of them. Now there is a nudge over 25 and counting.
Geoff Gerard was the first guy to achieve it back in 1988 and since then, the list had been drip-fed here and there. This year it’s been practically flooded. After Cooper Cronk joined the list at the end of last season, he's been joined by former Melbourne Storm team-mate Ryan Hoffman, dual premiership winner Chris Heighington and soon enough, his Sharks teammates Luke Lewis and Paul Gallen (touch wood).
Billy Slater is also getting up there. Johnathan Thurston should have surpassed the 300-game mark already, but it looks as though we’ll have to save those celebrations for the season opener in 2018.
Obviously, these examples are at the VIP end of the career scale. Not every young NRL hopeful is lucky enough to play one game, let alone have the super-human durability to clock up 300 of them.
Ironically, the career of a journalist is just as unpredictable these days. It’s not as exciting as the sports we cover, but I believe it’s just as important. The media is a constantly evolving beast and only now we’re beginning to understand the extent to which is changing.
The balance between the digital media and a tangible product is tough to find, but I’m positive we’re getting closer. I know you’re wondering, and yes we’re doing just fine at Big League. Our sales are up, our readers are happy (I hope!) and we’re as committed as ever to story-telling – from the 300-game milestones down to your regular rugby league battlers.
That’s why it gave me such a thrill to see the magazine was featured in a brilliant story on the Bulldogs’ Sean White on Fox League’s League Life on Wednesday night. In the piece put together by Jess Yates, James Graham said Sean puts Big League in the players’ lockers on game day and squirrels away the remaining copies every week. It’s nice to know the stories we find important to tell are the ones he likes to read, and hopefully, the rest of you do too.
I feel incredibly privileged to be able to work in the game I love and bring it to those who feel the same way about it. To work for an institution like Big League is an added bonus.
It’s my hope a player like Cameron King, who has endured incredible bad luck with injuries throughout his career at the Dragons, Cowboys and now the Eels, takes his copy home this week. I hope he savours his name listed alongside that No.9 on the NRL team list, because despite his 21 NRL games over eight seasons, it’s the first time he’s worn the number. To me, his persistence is just as admirable as any player who has clocked the ultimate milestone.
And anyway, who’s to say one game is worth any less than number 300?
The Round 17 issue of Big League has features on Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Titans half Ashley Taylor and Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans along with Benji Marshall and the top eight club spending sprees. On sale now at newsagents, supermarkets, at the ground and via www.magsonline.com.au/big-league.