Castleford coach Daryl Powell has praised veteran prop Andy Lynch as he steps into a unique club on Sunday with his 500th career appearance.
The likeable Lynch, who will feature during the Tigers’ game against Warrington to bring up the milestone, made his professional debut in 1999: actually playing against his current coach during his early years as a player!
And Powell, who knows the prop more than most, admits he is delighted to see Lynch reach a milestone only a handful of players have reached in the Super League era.
“Yes, he’s knocking on a bit,” the Tigers coach joked. “He’s a little bit greyer than me, too! He’s been an awesome player over many years. He gets a fair bit of stick actually for his age but he’s still going. 500 games is a lot of games isn’t it to play rugby league? He’s a big man, he does a lot of hard work and does a lot of minutes so it’s a fine achievement.”
With the prop now well into his late 30s – at 38, he is Super League’s oldest player – Powell has rotated the forward much more this year, opting to rest him on several occasions: a policy he believes has benefitted the former Bradford and Hull front-rower.
“He’s had a couple of really tough injuries particularly on his hand which has really impacted on his ability to do a big pre-season,” Powell said. “We’ve tried really to sharpen him up over a couple of periods where he’s done extra training without having to play the game at the weekend.
“I think that’s helped him and he’s come back and played some really strong games for us. He’s a great leader and a great driver of standards around the place. He’ll continue to do that for as long as he plays the game. That’s just the way he is.”
It is still unclear whether Lynch will retire at the end of this year, with Powell admitting no decision has been made yet over Lynch’s future.
“I’ve not really spoken to him in too much depth about it. I think he’ll make his decision in good time and for me it’d just be a massive thank you for what he’s done if that’s what he decides (retirement) as he’s been an awesome contributor to this club in a couple of stints and rugby league in general, I think.”