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Smith and Slater the stars of 2017's big milestones

The 2017 Telstra Premiership was a big one for some of the iron men of the NRL and while indomitable Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith headed up some major record-breaking, he wasn't the only player charting new ground.

Cameron Smith sets all-time highs

Let's start with the new all-time games record holder. Smith overtook fellow Queensland legend Darren Lockyer's NRL-record 355 games tally in the first week of the finals when he helped the Melbourne Storm edge past the Parramatta Eels.

The 34-year-old stretched his most Origins record further ahead to 42, now sitting five clear of Johnathan Thurston. He is closing in on Lockyer's Kangaroos record of 59 Tests. He's three short of Lockyer but with few international matches on offer in the short term he may end up just short.

In round two, Smith's five-goal haul meant he became the first forward to reach the 2000-point barrier. His season tally of 192 points edged him past Knights Immortal Andrew Johns into second on the all-time list with 2185, behind only Bulldogs great Hazem El Masri (2418).

As if all that wasn't enough, the tireless Storm skipper also became the first player in premiership history to crack the 14,000-tackle mark. His 776 tackles took him to 14,124, with Eels stalwart Nathan Hindmarsh (12,203) well back in second.

Smith's 1526 minutes on field took him to 27,579 in his NRL career – no other player yet has even 25,000. Teammates Cooper Cronk (24,266) and Billy Slater (23,533) are in second and third.

Warriors pair break Jones's records

The Auckland-based club is relatively young compared to some rivals but there were still some lofty numbers reached in terms of games and points records.

In both cases it was Stacey Jones, one of the club's all-time greats, who was eclipsed by a pair of modern-day stars.

Veteran lock Simon Mannering finished the season with 280 games, having broken Jones's 261-game mark in round four against the St George Illawarra Dragons. His teammate Shaun Johnson's 108 points scored proved enough to overtake Jones's club record of 674, finishing the season on 775.

Slater dominates attacking milestones

Despite playing just seven games due to injury, Johnathan Thurston set up seven tries to become the first player to 300 try assists (now 301). His long-time Maroons and Kangaroos teammate Cooper Cronk passed 250 – just the second player to do so – with his 14 season try assists taking him to 264.

Billy Slater became the first player to 250 line breaks with 13 in 2017 pushing him to 259 - Lockyer is second all time.

Slater's seven tries moved him past Steve Menzies into second spot on the all-time try-scorers list, though his 172 tries are still 39 adrift of all-time try king Ken Irvine.

Billy Slater poses with fans after the 2017 NRL Grand Final.
Billy Slater poses with fans after the 2017 NRL Grand Final. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos/NRL Photos

In Slater's turbo-charged season he busted 80 tackles for the season and he is well clear on the all-time list here with 1231 career tackle breaks. Second-placed Greg Inglis (1123) will be hoping to add more in 2018 than in an injury-wrecked 2017. Josh Mansour, James Tedesco, Dane Gagai and Dave Taylor broke their 500th career tackle last season.

Slater was also one of three players to cross the 150 line-break assist mark in 2017 along with Mitchell Pearce and John Sutton. All three are well short of all-time leader Johnathan Thurston (286 and counting), though Slater's 159 is now fourth with Benji Marshall (214) and Cooper Cronk (198) also ahead of him.

Sharks skipper Paul Gallen popped his 700th offload – the first player to do so – and now sits at 726 for his career. Second-placed Corey Parker (529) is miles behind and Gallen is the only non-retired player in the top 10, meaning his final tally will likely be safe for some time.

Host of NRL stars reach individual milestones

A quartet of veterans – Ryan Hoffman plus Sharks trio Gallen, Luke Lewis and Chris Heighington – joined the 300-game club. Robbie Farah, Darius Boyd, Jacob Lillyman and Adam Blair passed 250 games while Andrew McCullough, Brett Morris, Ben Matulino, Aiden Tolman, Chris Lawrence, Alex Glenn, Jarrod Croker, Jake Friend, James Maloney, Tim Mannah, Wade Graham and Scott Bolton brought up 200 games.

Canberra centre Jarrod Croker became just the fifth player to have scored more than 100 tries and 1500 career points after Hazem El Masri, Luke Burt, Ryan Girdler and Jamie Lyon.

Thurston joined Smith in the 2000-point club while Croker and Jason Nightingale each passed 100 career tries.

Long-serving Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett also coached his 600th top-grade game.

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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