“I feel like I’ve played nearer 1000,” Danny Houghton jokes when asked how his body is holding up ahead of a milestone appearance for hometown club Hull on Friday night.
Hull coach Lee Radford made the point during FC’s pre-match media conference on Thursday that despite Houghton clocking up 250 Super League appearances, the minutes last year’s Man of Steel has endured throughout his career – as well as all the tackles he’s made – means in reality, he’s way in advance of that.
But you suspect Houghton wouldn’t want it any other way. In a sport which seems to be evolving by the week, Houghton is one of rugby league’s true warriors – and like has been the case for the last decade, he will lead Hull’s crusade from the forefront again tonight.
“I was just happy to play one game when I first started,” he laughs to TotalRL.
“But the years fly by and the appearances rack up but I’m delighted to get this far. It’s a great milestone and a great number to hit and it’s something I’m really proud of if I’m being honest. I just hope we have something to celebrate at the end of Friday night.”
And should Hull have something to celebrate – namely a victory against St Helens – then it will mean the Black and Whites will have made a fairly impressive start to 2017. Three wins from four would be up there with the best – and Houghton admits it is imperative FC do not fall behind the chasing pack early doors.
“I reckon three from four will define a decent start to the season,” Houghton says. “If it’s two and two it’s a little bit frustrating because we don’t want to be scratching away and clawing at the leading pack – we want to be right in and amongst it from the start. You can’t afford to fall behind – simple as that.
“St Helens are a champion side and teams like that bounce back from blips and setbacks. We don’t want them to end that run against us though, we want to put them to the sword and concentrate on looking after our own house.”
Defeat to Catalans in their first home game of the new season has placed added significance on this fixture for Houghton and Hull – and with Lee Radford bringing up 100 games in charge in the process, there is a feel of determination around FC as they look to make it back-to-back wins.
Throw in the fact it is Houghton’s special night, and you have all the recipe for Hull to perform. “It makes it extra special to be doing all this for my hometown club and be around the place for 10 years,” Houghton says. “It shows I’ve done something right – hopefully there’s many more milestones to come and many more special nights still in the locker as a Hull player.”
You get the feeling that so long as he plays for Hull, those special nights won’t be too far away in the coming years.