KIAMA Knights centenary celebrations will take on a whole new meaning for Knights player Marc Laird on Saturday as he leads his side out in his 200th first grade.
The 33-year-old utility player, who made his top grade debut in 2001, admits that until this week didn’t realise he was so close to the milestone, which sees him join only Alan Piper and Steve Cupitt as double centurions in the modern era.
“I certainly didn’t know that this week would be my 200, but I am honoured to be able to join blokes like ‘Alby’ and ‘Cupo’ in that club,” Laird said.
While he has played a large slice of his career at five-eighth, in recent years he has also spent time at fullback, halfback and hooker, but now finds himself in the important role of lock and shares the captaincy with close friend and back-row partner Cameron Whittaker.
“Yeh, I have been switched around a lot over the years, but I am just happy to play wherever the coach thinks I am best suited to the team, and at the moment that is at lock.”
He has been rejuvenated by the Knights vastly improved performances over the past two years, making the semi-finals last year and sitting in third spot going into this week’s encounter with Jamberoo.
“I put the improvement in the side down to the young blokes finally believing in themselves – some of them were part of the reserve grade premiership team two years ago and they suddenly realise what they can do.
“A lot of this year’s success is built around a great attitude coach Simon Foster has built up at training and comes down to that belief and we hope we can keep building on that.”
The subject of retirement bought a wry smile.
“I have thought about it a couple of times over the past couple of years, but I think that while I am able to make a worthwhile contribution and not dragging the team back, I want to keep playing.
“I have spoken to a few guys who retired at 30 and tell me they wish they had played a couple of more years – and after all you’re a long time retired,”
He has also taken on another new role this year as co-coach of the Kiama under-6s where another Laird, eldest son Max recently debuted.