Heading for 200 games
JOHN Ryan is set to be the first player to play 200 senior games for the Whitsunday Sea Eagles when he takes to the field against the Bakers Creek Tigers this weekend.
Ryan played his first senior match for the Sea Eagles back in 1998 as a 19-year-old.
In the 13 years since then he has become an icon of the Whitsunday Aussie Rules club.
“He's a legend for what he's done for the club,” Sea Eagles president Andy Ward said.
“He's always there putting his hand up to do anything to help out.
“He's as tough as guts, he holds the backline up on his shoulders and he's always been there for any new players coming into the team.”
Not only has Ryan been a part of the Sea Eagles on-field success, he has also played an integral part in the club's leadership.
Ryan was vice-captain for the Sea Eagles from 2002-06 before he took the reins as captain for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
He was also club president in 2008.
When asked about his thoughts on his milestone, a modest Ryan simply put it down to luck.
“I'm proud of it,” he said.
“Probably more so in the sense that guys I used to play with have given it away due to injuries, so I guess I'm a bit luckier than most of them.
“I've been told by a lot of guys who can't play anymore to keep going as long as I can because once you're retired, you're retired for a long time.”
Ryan was also part of the club's premiership-winning teams in 2004, '05 and '06, and he hopes he can be part of the club's success in the future.
“If you had asked me two years ago ‘would I still be playing today', I would've said no,” he said.
“I'll just keep playing senior footy until I feel as if I'm not contributing to the team anymore.”
To top off a big week, Ryan celebrated his 32nd birthday on Tuesday.
Jersey number: 23
Senior games: 199 (from 1998-present)
Premierships: 2004, '05 and '06
Club Positions: Former president, captain and vice-captain
Number of broken noses: 14 (nine in 2004)