By Mary Maidiotis
St George Illawarra Dragons captain Ben Creagh is honoured to be making his 250th first-grade appearance in the annual ANZAC Day fixture against the Sydney Roosters, at Allianz Stadium, Moore Park on Saturday.
The local University of Wollongong junior has proudly played all 250 games at the one club, after making his Red V debut in 2003, at the age of 18.
Creagh, 30, acknowledges that the importance of this milestone for him is magnified by the fact it will occur on such a prestigious day on the nation’s calendar.
“It’s pretty special, I don’t know how many more of these milestones I’ll get to celebrate or achieve in my career, and it’s a huge bonus to be able to run out there for my 250th game on ANZAC day, as it’s my favourite game of the year,” said Creagh.
“It’s been a long time but I’ve been very lucky to play 250 games for the one club, I’m a local junior down here having played for the Steelers, and I never thought as an 18 year old that in 2015 I’d be playing 250 games.
“The 2010 grand final is definitely the highlight of my career, just that whole season, after the disappointment of 2009 and going into 2010 with so many doubters and people criticising us, it was great to finally win that premiership for the club and that’s something I’ll never forget.
“As I said, it’s my favourite game of the year to be able to play on ANZAC Day for all the diggers past and present who are at the game and who are celebrating that day.
“We are very lucky as a team and as rugby league players to play on that day and hopefully we can do them proud.
“We had some people from the NRL and some ex-soldiers come in and speak to the team about what ANZAC Day means to them and it’s great to put that knowledge forward to the young guys in the team but also the older guys who don’t know that much either.
“I’m not sure what the coach has got planned for this week but in previous years, for a long time now, we’ve always had someone come in and speak to us about what ANZAC Day means to them and their mates.
“The Roosters are a quality side so we’re not trying to look into their losses too much at the moment.
“They’ve got a dangerous forward pack, they always have, and it’s a big forward pack so we’re going to have our hands full.
“It’s great that guys like Mike Cooper, Leeson Ah Mau, and Trent Merrin, who are starting for us at the moment, are playing great footy so there are going to be some good match-ups there.
“They’re one of the top sides in the NRL and for us to be there in September playing finals footy, we’ve got to beat the top sides, so it’s a huge test for us but it’s going to be a massive game.
“I’m tipping it’s going to be muddy after the amount of rain we’ve had in Sydney this week but we’ve had to train in it all week and prepare for it, so we’re ready to go.”