JUST one week after bringing up one milestone, Shellharbour's Trent Merrin is set to achieve another.
"It was great to have a special jersey presentation there with my family, as well as a couple of speeches and highlights of my career," Merrin said.
"As a younger player, I can still remember when they were presenting jerseys to Matt Cooper, Dean Young and Jason Nightingale - so to experience that myself and be among those guys' names, is something I'll never forget.
"It all meant a lot and obviously leaving the club for a stint, I thought I might not get a chance to bring up this milestone.
"I always held a spot in my heart that one day I might return to where it all started and mix it in, week out with the NRL's best.
"I had to come back and prove not only to the club but also myself that I could still compete at this level, both mentally and physically, because the talent is improving each season.
"You obviously have some doubts along the way but I've always believed in myself - I'll continue to strive to be the best player I can be for this club which I love and help it get back to where I know it belongs."
Now this Sunday, the 31-year-old will play his 250th first grade game, which includes 150 with the Dragons, 72 with the Panthers and 27 with Leeds Rhinos.
"It's a massive achievement for myself, especially as I had my doubts I'd ever get the first one," Merrin said.
"You don't really look at the past and what you've achieved until matches like this come around and you get time to reflect.
"It's a special achievement but it'll mean little if we don't get the win on Sunday - the main priority for the team and I is continuing to build on the last few weeks."
As special as these milestones are, as the Group Seven junior alludes to, he is more concerned with continuing the club's four-game win streak against the Warriors, from 2pm Sunday at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
"The win against Parramatta was the best I've had since rejoining the club," he said.
"To test everything we've been doing the past few weeks against a side like Parramatta and put it all together was really encouraging and gives the whole group self-belief - especially doing it on their home ground.
"We wanted to put in a performance we would be proud of as a team and to set a standard and I believe we did that.
"As a group, we're ready to play even longer than the 80 minutes and deal with whatever is thrown at us.
"From a forwards perspective, we're all doing the little things and keeping each other accountable, to ensure we're all improving.
"We're still in the early preparations for the Warriors but I'm confident if we continue to look after what we can control, it'll put us in a strong position to succeed.
"There's no doubting their talent across the park and size in their forwards but at the end of the day, it's just another challenge we're looking forward to as a playing group."
This week could also mark Josh McGuire's first in the Red V, which excites fellow forward Merrin.
"He's got that mongrel about him as well as that seniority, having played representative footy for both Queensland and Australia," Merrin, who admits he's enjoyed the pairs battles over the year, said.
"He's a great player to have in your team - I personally haven't been in a camp with him but to play in those sort of teams, you need to be a super talented player.
"I've heard nothing but great things about him and I know he's going to add a lot to our side."
Looking further ahead, Merrin's contract expires at the end of this season but he admits he isn't worried too much about next year, rather living in the moment.
"I haven't made a decision on what I'm going to do next year, I'm just enjoying this season for what it is," the former NSW and Australian representative said.
"I'm really enjoying being part of this playing group and what Hook [Anthony Griffin] has brought to the club - keeping it real simple and instilling that self-belief among the boys.
"The feeling brings back some good memories.
"I'm in a good spot with my life, with footy, a beautiful family at home and back in my home town and when everything is in place with your life, I believe that's when you play your best footy."
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