Another 3000 games heads out the door with 2019 retirees

At least three and as many as six triple-centurions will depart the NRL at the end of season 2019 with their combined departing experience to exceed 3000 games.

Heading the list is multiple premiership-winner Cooper Cronk, who sits second on the all-time games list with 365 – which could be as many as 374 by the first Sunday in October.

With two Dally M medals, one Golden Boot, one Clive Churchill Medal, five Dally M Halfback of the Year nods, 38 Tests, 22 Origins and eight grand final appearances for three premierships, Cronk will take an irreplaceable wealth of knowledge with him when he hangs up the boots.

Fellow 300-gamers Paul Gallen and Robbie Farah have also confirmed their retirements. Each played a key role in NSW's drought-breaking 2014 Origin series win and each was a part of their respective club's first premiership – Farah in 2005 with Wests Tigers and Gallen for the 2016 Sharks.

They are likely to finish on 346 (Gallen) and 306 (Farah) after round 25, with one last finals fling still a possibility for each.

Three more 300-game club members John Sutton (328, all for the Rabbitohs), Gavin Cooper (303 for the Cowboys, Titans and Panthers) and Benji Marshall (303 for Wests Tigers, Dragons and Broncos) are unsigned for next year.

Marshall looks certain to go round again but Sutton and Cooper could add to what will already be a glittering class of retirees.

The other current 300-gamers – Cameron Smith (403), Darius Boyd (311) and Adam Blair (306) – are signed for 2020.

Kangaroos and Maroons legend Matt Scott (266 caps, all for North Queensland) announced recently he would be hanging up the boots at season's end.

The no-nonsense bookend was an integral part of Queensland's decade of Origin dominance and spent a huge chunk of his career being widely regarded as the best prop in the world. He played 22 Tests for 20 wins and 22 Origins for 13 wins, and was a key part of the Cowboys' 2015 premiership win.

Former Panthers, Sharks, Eels, Roosters and now Titans fullback Michael Gordon will officially pull up stumps after round 25. Sidelined with a hamstring injury, Gordon will be hoping to make it back in time to add to his 257 NRL starts. Gordon also played one Origin for NSW.

Jeremy Latimore will finish with St George Illawarra this year after an 11-season career with the Eels, Warriors, Dragons, Panthers and Sharks before returning to the Red V last year. He can stretch his 178 games up to 183 if he plays the remaining games this year.

Injury has forced veteran prop Tim Grant into premature retirement - the former Blues prop played 196 games for Penrith, Souths and Wests Tigers.

A series of injuries also forced late-blooming Knights cult hero Nathan Ross into retirement with 60 games, all of which came in a tough period for the Hunter club.

There is also a wealth of experience leaving the NRL for the Super League.

Veteran Storm, Warriors, Roosters, Sharks, Panthers, Blues and Kangaroos playmaker James Maloney has called time on his NRL days, with one final contract at Catalans awaiting the 33-year-old.

Maloney's legacy, aside from being one of the NRL's true characters, will be as a winner – he made every team he joined better, taking the Warriors to a rare grand final appearance in 2011 and winning premierships with the Roosters and Sharks. He also played a key role in the 2018 and 2019 Origin series wins.

Often overlooked is Maloney's endurance – he earned four caps at Melbourne in 2009 as a fill-in but from the time he moved into a starting role from 2010 to now, no other player has played more NRL games. Of his 243 total games, 239 have come in those 10 seasons, putting him five clear of Cameron Smith (234 in the same period), Adam Blair (230), Alex Glenn (229), James Tamou and Jarrod Croker (both 228).

The others to have confirmed their departure to Super League are Gareth Widdop (190 games for the Storm and Dragons, one premiership), George Burgess (147 for Souths including one premiership), Sosaia Feki (143, all for the Sharks including one premiership), Manu Ma'u (108, all at the Eels) and Mahe Fonua (71 for the Storm and Tigers). Eels forward Tepai Moeroa (106 games) is heading to rugby.

There are a stack of other players late in their career yet to make a call on their 2020 future, including Issac Luke (268 games), Ben Matulino (248 games), Scott Bolton (241 games), Chris Lawrence (234 games), Tim Mannah (233 games), Shaun Fensom (176 games), Sam Tagataese (172 games) and David Gower (113 games).

Between them the confirmed retirees (1961 games and counting) and departures to Super League or rugby (1006 games) will take at least 3067 games of experience with them.

There are another 3606 caps shared between late-career players yet to make a call on their 2020 future; some of those will definitely play on but there will likely be enough retire to push the 2019 retirees' class beyond 4000 games of experience, rivalling last year's record tally.

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