SYDNEY: The 2019 Telstra Premiership season is set to deliver another record-breaking year for teams, individual players, coaches and clubs in terms of milestones and achievements.
The possibility of Cameron Smith becoming the first player to break the 400-game barrier headlines a list of possible milestones to take place this season.
Cameron Smith is yet to officially sign a new deal in Melbourne but the magical 400 number is in sight for the premiership-winning star, just 16 games away.
If the 35-year-old manages to play in every game leading into round 17, a home clash against arch rivals Cronulla will be when he achieves the milestone.
Should the veteran miss one or two games prior to round 17, he could break the 400-game barrier against the likes of Brisbane, Manly or the Rabbitohs.
There’s another significant record the Storm hooker is on track to break: Smith requiring just 33 points to overtake Hazem El Masri, pictured, as the highest point-scorer in NRL Telstra Premiership history. El Masri’s record stands at 2418 after he passed Andrew Johns’s tally in 2009.
Cronk near 350
Sydney Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk is set to become just the fourth player to reach 350 NRL games in the opening round of the 2019 season against the Rabbitohs.
Cronk is tied with Manly great Steve Menzies on 349 games and will join Terry Lamb, Darren Lockyer and Smith in the top four.
The 35-year-old could finish the year, and possibly his career, ranked second behind Smith overall with Lockyer’s 355-game record also within reach. Cronulla skipper Paul Gallen requires 24 games to reach the 350-game milestone. Gallen managed 22 games in 2018 but will need a healthy clean sheet in a bid to pass Menzies as the longest-serving running forward.
Five closing in on 300 games
Five players are on track to break into the 300 club in 2019.
Brisbane skipper Darius Boyd is eight games away from the milestone, while Kiwi internationals Adam Blair and Benji Marshall (both 289 games) could achieve the feat by June.
North Queensland back-rower Gavin Cooper (284) and Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah (282) are on track to reach the milestone in the second half of the season.
In a code where player swapping and recruitment continues to be a topic of discussion, three players are in line to reach special milestones at their respective clubs.
Wests Tigers back-rower Chris Lawrence requires 23 games to reach 250 games for the joint venture club.
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves requires seven games to reach a double century for the Tricolours.
The fiery New Zealand test prop could reach the milestone on Anzac Day at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Cronulla second-rower Wade Graham requires 23 games to reach the milestone of 200 games for the Sharks.
Croker chasing rare record
Canberra Raiders skipper Jarrod Croker is 232 points away from becoming the first player under 30 to score 2000 points at the Telstra Premiership level.
He’ll go close to getting there this year.
The 28-year-old has managed more than 232 points in a season twice (in 2015 and 2016), leaving the race wide open should the Raiders return to their winning ways in 2019.
Croker has until September 2020 to break the overall record of youngest player to reach 2000 points, set by Jason Taylor at Parramatta in 2001.
He’s also seven tries away from becoming Canberra’s all-time leading try-scorer. – NRL