Vodafone Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman goes into Monday’s fourth-round clash against the Newcastle Knights just one step away from another significant achievement in his long NRL career.
Having made his 200th career appearance last season, the now 32-year-old will play his 149th game for the club this week leaving him in line to achieve his 150th milestone against the Sydney Roosters in Gosford on Sunday, April 3.
Lillyman, who played all three games in Queensland’s successful Origin campaign last year, is having his 14th top level season since making his NRL debut with the Cowboys in 2003.
He’s one of four 200-game NRL veterans in this year’s squad alongside captain Ryan Hoffman, Simon Mannering and Manu Vatuvei while Issac Luke is set to join them soon. Ali Lauitiiti counts more than 400 first-grade games combining his NRL and Super League careers while Thomas Leuluai is close to 300 in total in the two competitions.
Lillyman embodies the qualities of durability and consistency needed to survive the NRL’s rigours for so long. Since making a belated return from offseason surgery in round nine in 2012 he has played 86 of the Vodafone’s 91 matches.
Each week of the season so far head coach Andrew McFadden has tasked Lillyman with the role of being the side’s senior starting prop opting to move Ben Matulino to the bench to provide an experienced operator for the first front row interchange.
So far this season the North Queensland born and raised ‘Bull’ has been averaging 46 minutes a game, 26 tackles and 92 metres mixing it with the big men in the middle of the park.