With Canberra’s Jarrod Croker playing his 300th NRL game this Friday night, NothingButLeague are looking back at some of the best one-club 300 gamers.
Canberra Raiders: Jarrod Croker (299*)
A Canberra Raiders legend (having playing in two grand finals: Toyota Cup in 2008 and NRL in 2019), “Toots” nearly didn’t make it to 300. He was on 291 games at the end of the 2021 season before injuries caught up with him (having stem-cell surgery on his knee). He returned in Round 9 2022 (against Canterbury-Bankstown), but he injured his shoulder. By the the time he returned to NSW Cup, he’d fallen down the pecking order. But he returned in Round 6 2023 against Brisbane (following an embarrassing loss to Penrith), and his cool head and accurate goalkicking helped the Raiders to five straight wins.
While he’ll probably never win a premiership, and never played Origin or Test footy, he’s played the second highest games for the Raiders and holds a number of Raiders records: most tries (134), most points in a season (296 in 2016), and most points for the club (2,274).
* – Croker will play his 300th NRL game against the New Zealand Warriors on Friday, June 9.Embed from Getty Images
Melbourne Storm: Cam Smith (430), Cooper Cronk (323) and Billy Slater (319)
The ‘Big Three’ were a huge part of Melbourne and Queensland’s dominance from 2006-2017.
Smith, Cronk, and Slater played in seven grand finals (four straight from 2006-2009) for two official premierships (2012 and 2017). And they were the nucleus of a Queensland Origin side that won eight straight series from 2006-2014. Cronk added another premiership (2018) with the Sydney Roosters, masterminding a win over the Storm in one of the classic grand final performances.Embed from Getty Images
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks: Paul Gallen (348) and Andrew Ettingshausen (328)
While he’s despised by Queenslanders, there’s no doubting Paul Gallen’s durability, playing nearly 20 years for the Sharks and helping them to their maiden “Turn off the porch lights” premiership in 2016.
On the other side of the coin, Andrew ‘ET’ Ettingshausen was one of the pin-up boys of the ’90s. His good looks and charisma signalled a change to glamorous players who could be marketed for their looks along with their football ability.
But ET was more than just a pretty face. Like Gallen, he had nearly two decades with the Sharks. Unfortunately, there wasn’t as much success for the winger/centre/fullback, though he did captain the Sharks in the 1997 Super League Grand Final, and was a regular for NSW in Origin (27 games) and played 25 Tests for the Kangaroos, including two Kangaroos tours. At least ET got to experience the Sharks’ 2016 premiership, embracing Paul Gallen after full-time.Embed from Getty Images Embed from Getty Images
South Sydney Rabbitohs: John Sutton (336)
Like Gallen, Sutton was able to deliver a historic premiership to his club. Sutton captained the Rabbitohs in their 2014 NRL Grand Final win, the Rabbitohs’ first in 43 years and their first since their re-entry into the NRL. Despite passing 300 games in 15 years at Souths, Sutton never took the next step to Origin or Test footy, though he played a handful of games for the Prime Minister’s XII and NSW City.Embed from Getty Images
Parramatta Eels: Nathan Hindmarsh (330)
Now known as a light-hearted media personality on Fox Sports (with partner-in-tomfoolery Bryan Fletcher), it’s easy to forget what a workhorse ‘Hindy’ was, and how unlucky he was never to win a premiership. He was one of the few players whose career straddled three separate decades, starting in 1998 and ending in 2012. The closest Hindmarsh came to a premiership was 2009, when the Eels lost to Melbourne. Though the Storm were stripped of that one due to salary cap breaches. At least Hindy’s lack of a premiership led to the brilliant sledging war between him and his good mate Johnathan Thurston.
Though Hindmarsh was a regular for NSW from 2001-10, playing 17 games, and 23 Tests for Australia.Embed from Getty Images
Canberra Raiders: Jason Croker (318)
Playing in a team of superstars, it’s easy to forget how durable Jason Croker was. He was the last of the ‘Green Machine’ era to retire, finishing in 2006 (though he didn’t have the Origin and international record of teammates like Ricky Stuart, Mal Meninga, Bradley Clyde, Glenn Lazarus etc), and scored a try in Canberra’s 1994 NSWRL Grand Final win. He currently holds the record of first grade game for the Raiders, though Jarrod Croker could surpass him if he plays beyond 2023, while Jason was the #1 Raiders try-scorer (120) until Jarrod overtook him.Embed from Getty Images
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs: Hazem El Masri (317)
Where do we start with ‘Hazem El Magic?’ The Lebanese-born El Masri holds nearly every record at Belmore: most first grade games (317), most tries (159), most goals (891), and most points (2,418). He also played in the 2000 World Cup for his native Lebanon and one Origin for NSW (2007). More importantly for Bulldogs fans, he played a big role in the 2004 Grand Final, scoring a try and two goals in their 16-13 win over the Sydney Roosters.Embed from Getty Images
Other one-club 300 gamers
Sydney Roosters: Mitch Aubusson (306) and Anthony Minichiello (302)
Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles: Cliff Lyons (309)
New Zealand Warriors: Simon Mannering (301)