WHILE Nathan Hindmarsh will best be remembered for his efforts without the ball, here's a stunning statistic on his work with it - the retiring Parramatta legend has carried the ball up more than any other player in NRL history.
Statistics produced by Sportsdata, stretching back to the start of the NRL era in 1998, show that Hindmarsh has run with the Steeden on 4428 occasions, ahead of Cronulla forward Paul Gallen (4067), Roosters fullback Anthony Minichiello (4000) and his former teammate Nathan Cayless (3743).
And in another surprising stat, the workaholic back-rower has notched up a total of 32.362 kilometres from those hit-ups, third only to Minichiello (33.579km) and Gallen (32.458km).
''Am I surprised? I guess that comes with 15 years, doesn't it,'' Hindmarsh said when told of his unknown benchmark. ''I've been pretty much injury free, I haven't missed too many games. Obviously the more games you play, the more runs you're going to do.''
For many, the enduring image of Hindmarsh is of the Robertson product, with his arse literally hanging out of his shorts, making the tackles no one else wanted to make. Even in his twilight season, when he has played less than his customary 80 minutes, he has averaged 43 tackles per match. Today at ANZ Stadium, he is set to bring down an opponent for the 12,000th time, another record.
When he burst onto the NRL scene he was a destructive ball runner, regularly terrorising opponents on the edges. As his game evolved, he defended more to the point where, by his own admission, it blunted his attacking game.
''Over the last probably six or seven years, yeah, definitely,'' he said.
''I fell back into a defensive role and it's not until the last half of this season that I've got a bit of my running game back.''
However, the former Blues and Kangaroos star remains an underrated metre eater. In his final seasons he has drifted towards the middle of the field, playing a role more akin to a front-rower rather than back-rower. And while no man has made more tackles in the game, he will finish up with an average yardage haul just a fraction short of 100 metres per game.
''You could have a three-course meal in between the tackles I had to do out there,'' Hindmarsh said of his earlier years playing on the edges.
''The edge is that much easier than in the middle. The blokes in the middle, the amount of work you have to do there is ridiculous compared to on the edges.''
While there is no such thing as easy metres in the NRL, the ones made by the forwards are considered the toughest. Four of the top 10 metre-eaters are fullbacks, who clock up the majority of their yardage from kick returns.
If Gallen, another renowned workhorse, continues to hit the ball up at his current rate he could break Hindmarsh's record in late 2013 or early 2014.
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