Sharks forward Sam Tagataese will celebrate a personal milestone tonight, notching 150 NRL games as the side plays host to the Eels at Southern Cross Group Stadium.
While much of the side’s successes inside 16 rounds this season have been credited to the marquee men at the Club, milestone-man Tagataese said he’s happy with his role and contributions, thus far in 2016.
But now into his ninth year in the top grade, Tagataese told www.sharks.com.au he may have not achieved the 150 milestone if not for learning valuable lessons – about himself and the game – since debuting in Round 4 of the 2007 season.
“I’m very happy to have had the chance to play one NRL game, let alone 150,” Tagataese said.
“It’s a milestone that is not lost with me, it’s not always been easy. There’s so many people that have helped in my journey in my career. I owe a lot of thanks to them.”
Arriving at the Sharks midway through 2011, the now 29-year-old forward quickly established himself as a mainstay in the side’s pack – a point he puts down to lessons learned under Craig Bellamy in his time at the Storm.
“Bellamy taught me almost everything I had needed to learn about footy … It’s (150 games) been a bit of a long time coming,” Tagataese said of the milestone.
“Obviously playing with the Storm in (the Premiership year) 2007, I learned a lot there. The professionalism required to play at that top level, it’s something that’s stuck with me since day one.
“It’s something that has been an added emphasis across every club now, and something that sits well with every player here at the Sharks this year. It’s what has us where we are so far.”
Finding his place at the Sharks via a short stint on the Gold Coast (2009-10), Tagataese will play his 150th NRL game – and his 99th at the Club – as the side hunts for a record-breaking 12th win in succession.
The hard-hitting forward said it’s the side’s belief – both in themselves and in each other – that has formed a tight-knit bond within the squad.
“Everyone’s playing for each other, that’s what has us in such good spirits,” he said.
“We’re a really tight bunch, you can see that on the field. No one wants to let their mate down ... there’s a really good vibe amongst the boys.”