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NRL's Sharks praise 300-gamer Heighington

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/03/2017 Steve Zemek

Even after reaching the prestigious 300 NRL game milestone and winning premierships with two clubs, Chris Heighington isn't satisfied.

The 35-year-old Cronulla workhorse will become the 26th player to join the elite 300-game club when he runs out for Saturday's clash with Newcastle at Southern Cross Group Stadium.

Despite not being a household name like fellow 300-gamers such as Darren Lockyer, Terry Lamb and Brad Fittler, Heighington has crammed a lot in to his 15 seasons in first grade.

Coach Shane Flanagan praised him as an ornament to the game and for the manner in which he refuses to rest on his achievements and is vocal in his belief he can win a third title with the Sharks.

"To win one premiership is an achievement but then to play 300 games and to win two comps," Flanagan said.

"Chris keeps talking about how he wants to win a third comp too.

"Hopefully it's this year for him."

Heighington made his debut in 2003 for the Wests Tigers, helping to win the joint venture's first premiership two years later in a side led by Benji Marshall and Scott Prince.

After 201 games at Concord, he shifted to Sharks in 2013, playing a part in their first title success last season.

Heighington will become just the third current player to pass the 300-game mark, along with Melbourne pair Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk.

He is mulling over extending his career in 2018, a move that could see him break into the top 10 on the all-time games played list.

While not considered a superstar of the game, the tough-as-teak forward is well liked and highly regarded by his peers.

The Sharks will carry a do-it-for-Heino mentality into Saturday's clash and Flanagan hopes they can help him celebrate his achievement in style.

"We spoke about it during the week, about doing it for one of us," Flanagan said.

"He's an important part of our club and I don't think there's a more popular player in our club. He's a pleasure to be around and coach.

"It's an enormous achievement, especially in the forwards and the way he plays.

"And he's an ambassador, there have never been any troubles around Chris Heighington, he's a great footballer and great person."

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