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Melbourne Storm trio Matt Geyer, Rodney Howe and Matt Orford will all celebrate significant milestones when the Storm takes on the St George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium this Friday night.
Geyer and Howe ? foundation players that have been in Melbourne since the club?s inception seven years ago ? will be lining up for their 150th and 100th games for the Storm respectively.
Orford, who joined Melbourne from the then Northern Eagles in 2001, is set to play his 100th NRL match this Friday night in what is shaping up as a crucial clash for both sides.
Howe, who will also play his 150th first-grade match this week, admitted his milestones had been a long time coming due to a wretched run of injury in recent years.
?Obviously it?s been a while coming but it?s good to get that many games up after a bad year of injury,? the former Test prop said.
Despite making his first-grade debut for Newcastle back in 1992, Howe has been plagued by ongoing injury over the past few seasons, the most recent being a knee reconstruction after just two games last year.
Following a stint with feeder club Brisbane Norths earlier this season, Howe has been one of the Storm?s major contributors up forward in the absence of Alex Chan and Robbie Kearns.
?It?s good to be playing footy again and while it was tough to get the legs moving at the start of the year, it?s come pretty good towards the end of the season,? the two-time Storm Player of the Year added.
?I?ve been really happy with the way I?ve progressed in the last month or two, it just took a long time to get to this point. I new it was going to take a long time, especially at my age, because I missed all of last year so it?s been pleasing to get back on track.?
As for next year, Howe is leaning towards retirement but won?t make a final call until the end of the season.
?I?m not 100 per cent sure but I don?t think I can go to England next year because the English criteria now is over two years and I don?t think I qualify because of my knee injury ruining last year,? Howe said.
?I?m just going to play out the rest of the season, there?s no hurry to make a final decision, but unless I get a decent offer elsewhere at the end of the year I?ll probably retire and get on with the next part of my life.?
After a slow start to his career in Melbourne, Geyer will become the first ever Storm player to play 150 first-grade games for the club this Friday night.
?This milestone is special for me because when I was first here in Melbourne I wasn?t in the original first-grade side and I certainly didn?t believe that I would become one of the club?s most capped players let alone the most capped player,? Geyer said.
?I was proud of being the fourth Storm player to reach 100 games for the club so to be the first to 150 is a real honour for me.?
?I never get to celebrate any of these milestones myself,? Geyer laughed.
?Myself and Howey aren?t going to be around for a great deal longer and Ox (Orford) is hopefully a view of what the club has to look forward down the track.?
After making his NRL debut at the age of 22 with the Eagles, Orford has flourished in Melbourne, developing into one of the NRL?s premier halfbacks.
?I think it (100 games) has come around fairly slowly, the majority of those 100 games have been with the Storm which is something I?m quite pleased about,? Orford said.
?You never think you?re going to play that many first-grade games and at some stages when you?re injured ? and I had a few injuries early in my career a few years back - it doesn?t seem like a possibility.
?It?s good that these milestones are all falling on the one game, hopefully it will give us a little bit more motivation to go that extra yard to help make it a memorable game for those guys involved.?
Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy has named an unchanged line-up from the side that lost by 16 points to the Sydney Roosters last week.
MELBOURNE STORM TEAM TO PLAY THE ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA DRAGONS, FRIDAY AUGUST 6, AT WIN STADIUM (7.30PM):
1. Billy Slater 2. Matt Geyer 3. Steven Bell 4. Ben MacDougall 5. Matt King 6. Scott Hill 7. Matt Orford 8. Robbie Kearns 9. Cameron Smith 10. Rodney Howe 11. David Kidwell 12. Stephen Kearney (c) 13. Dallas Johnson