100 up for rugby league's ironman
LUKE Douglas can’t remember the last time he missed a rugby league game.
And approaching his 100th consecutive National Rugby League (NRL) match for the Sharks, the Yamba product still can’t pinpoint a reason for his ever-ready ways.
The 23-year-old made his debut in round 2, 2006 against the Brisbane Broncos and has now gone on to establish himself as one of the code’s most durable troops.
The fact his has achieved the feat form the cut and thrust of the front row makes the accomplishment even more special.
Former NRL players Jason Taylor, Hazem El Masri and Paul Green all included injury-free streaks during their careers but they did so from the relative comfort of the backline.
“I seriously can’t remember a game I missed in the juniors,” Douglas told the Examiner.
“It was nothing I ever really thought about.
“There isn’t really any secret. I suppose I had a few superstitions when I started but nothing too special.
“I always wear the same pair of Yamba Surf Club swimmers.
“These days I just think if I do everything I can with things like physio I’m pretty happy.”
Against the New Zealand Warriors on Saturday, Douglas will assume the number 10 jersey he has made his own since being poached from the Lower Clarence Magpies straight out of high school in 2004.
But for the man himself this weekend marks just another game of footy.
“I suppose anyone would be proud of making it to 100 games,” he said.
“Once you finished you look back and think ‘that’s pretty good’.
“But who knows? I could miss next week.”
Ironically Douglas’ only missed match in his time in the top grade came when chosen in the Country lineup for the annual City-Country clash.
A wrist complaint ruled him out of that game but if the chance for representative honours came in 2010 Douglas would have no hesitation in calling a halt to his streak.
“There’s been a couple of little close calls but nothing big,” he said.
“I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.
“I had to pull out of a country game once and had to miss that.
“But everyone wants to play representative footy and it’s something in the back of my mind.
“If you can cut out all the little errors then you could think of rep teams. But my first priority is the Sharks.
“I’m happy with whatever comes - I don’t have much of an offload so it would be good if I could do some of them.”
So which of the century of matches stands out as a favourite?
“Probably when I scored my first career try against Souths (in round 4) at home (Toyota Park) in my first season,” said Douglas, who has notched two of his five career tries against the Rabbitohs.
“Adam Dykes put me through a gap. I ran about 20m and got between John Sutton. That was pretty good.”
And after years of winless heartache for Sharks fans, Douglas says a brighter future awaits the trophy-less Cronulla club.
“We should hopefully do well. We have got a heap of new guys,” he said.
“I guess I have a little bit (more responsibility) but I’ll just do the same thing that I have always done.”
Rugby league’s ironmen
Jason Taylor The former Wests Magpie and Parramatta Eel set a competition-record 194 consecutive game streak between 1992 and 2000.
Luke Douglas The Yamba youngster holds a rare spot in the record books after battling his way there through the front row.
Paul Green After missing just one much in four seasons from 1995-1998, the Queensland half finally succumbed to an injury-riddled 1999 season.
Hazem El Masri Bulldogs winger El Masri posted 174 straight matches before his run ended through a broken leg
I seriously can’t remember a game I missed in the juniors.