Wales Rugby League have congratulated their longest serving professional player, Ian Watson, for reaching 500 professional career games.
The 37-year old Swinton Lions player-coach, whose family hail from North Wales, is the joint record caps holder for Wales win 30 and his 470th club game was for the Lions against Gateshead Thunder in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup last Sunday.
He is now in his third stint with Swinton, and has played 225 games for them between 1998-2000, 2005-2006 and 2010 to date.
He played Super League for Workington Town in 1996 (5 games) and for Salford (41 games) in 1997 and he played 24 more times for the Reds in other league and cup games in 1995-96.
He also turned out in the Championships for Widnes Vikings (41 games, 2001 and 2006), Rochdale Hornets (32 games, 2003), Oldham Roughyeds (20 games, 2004), Halifax (30 games, 2007) and Leigh Centurions (52 games, 2008-2009).
“I’m delighted to have reached my 500th game,” Watson said. “Not many players get to this many professional games in their career and it’s a landmark that I wanted to reach.
“I’ve a lot of good memories in my career especially playing for Wales where we’ve won European Cups, against Australia in a World Cup semi-final when we were beating them for an hour and also playing against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium.
“There are lots of club successes in there as well, but winning what is now the Championship and then playing in a Premiership final for Salford at Old Trafford in 1996 is a particular highlight.”
Wales Rugby League chairman Brian Juliff said: “Everyone at Wales Rugby League would like to congratulate Ian Watson for reaching such a fantastic milestone.
“Ian has been one of Wales Rugby League’s most dedicated players and 500 professional games, including a 16-year international career is something that surely has to be recognised.
“We’d like to wish Ian all the best for the future. I’m not sure how many more games he’ll manage to squeeze in but I’m sure he’ll have a successful coaching career ahead of him for club and maybe even country. All the best to him.”