Time for one last hurrah
Hindy-sight ... Eels stalwart Nathan Hindmarsh on the burst as a fresh-faced Eel soon after making his first-grade debut. Photo: Getty Images
What were your first impressions of each other?
NH: He was pretty quiet. And he'll claim that we never hung out too much and that's probably true. Burty spent every second day back in Newcastle, so it was hard to hang out. But my first impressions of him: very polite, pretty quiet but very quick.
LB: First impressions were how athletic and fit he was for such a big guy. And the other thing - he didn't talk to me for the first couple of years. Brushed.
Surfy kid made good ... Parramatta winger Luke Burt takes a stroll on the beach in the lead-up to his NRL debut in 1999. Photo: Stefan Moore
What do you remember about each other's NRL debut?
NH: That his jersey was probably 10 times too big for him. But he held his own. A debut in front of 110,000 fans - he had a solid game, from what I can remember. Debuts can make or break footy players.
LB: It was the year before me. I know it was in Parkes because he's told me a lot about it. I didn't watch it.
Did you think he'd last in the NRL?
NH: Of course I did. The reason why? He was never one to shrug training, he'd always work hard at what he had to do, whether it be goal-kicking, tackling. He was always working hard to try to improve his game. Those type of players tend to last a lot longer. He's had to change the way he's played. When you think of wingers you think of speed, that type of stuff. Obviously as Burty has gotten older the speed hasn't been there but he's gotten smarter, he's a good thinker of the game. What he lacked in speed towards the end of his career he made up for in smarts.
LB: Definitely. When I first came into first grade I always knew he was going to make it. He may have even been playing for Australia at the end of my first year, but it was definitely the next year.
What's the most embarrassing moment of his career?
NH: Burty is pretty cruisy, nothing really rattles him. Probably getting up on The Footy Show in a fashion parade. [Laughing] I was embarrassed for him then! … We looked at some photos the other day and he had the old shark-tooth necklace, the blond hair and all that type of stuff.
LB: He enjoys his arse being shown. He's one of those blokes who doesn't miss any tackles, so when he does miss that odd one, that's probably when he gets most embarrassed, Hindy.
What's an embarrassing anecdote that has never been told about him?
NH: There's nothing. He's done nothing.
AP: Not even in 14 Mad Mondays?
NH: It's quite tame. We just hold our own. We're pretty much the last ones there on Mad Monday. Nothing really. There was a Mad Monday he couldn't come to because he had a baby. That's not an excuse, I think, no. I was pretty disappointed that just because he'd had a kid, he couldn't come to Mad Monday. Make sure you put sarcasm in my voice when you print that!
LB: I think he's given away most of his secrets in his book.
Who was more popular with the ladies when you both burst onto the NRL scene?
NH: Burty! Most popular with the ladies. Definitely! Well, the ladies of the right age group. See, as a younger guy I got the mothers and the grandparents but Burty got the 18- and 19-year-olds as well as a mix of the mums.
LB: Of course I'm going to say me. Although he'd say the opposite.
Who would make a better coach?
NH: I think Burty probably would, he's got a bit more patience than what I do. I think we'd both go all right but Burty has the patience for it … I think we could both be good assistants. I wouldn't mind assisting Burty. If he wanted to take the top job, I could easily assist him.
LB: In time he would. He'd be a great assistant coach to any club. He'd be excellent at that straight away, right now. I think in time he'd make a great NRL coach.
Who is the most annoying teammate?
NH: Michael Vella. Just a pest.
LB: Michael Vella. Hands down.
Who handles their drink better?
NH: [Laughing] Definitely Burty.
LB: I'd probably get pissier first but I can drink longer than him.
What has been your highlight?
NH: Fifteen years is going to be my highlight. There's all those other things, too - making Origin, winning the World Cup. But my highlight has just been playing 15 years at this club.
LB: Probably the mates I've played with. I've made some great mates, obviously with Hindy and Nathan Cayless and Vella, those type of guys. All the blokes I've met have been a great bunch of blokes, I haven't met any idiots. There's been a couple of little rep games I got to play in which is also another highlight.
What's your lowlight?
NH: The obvious ones, losing grand finals. There's never been a lowlight, just the ups and downs of playing rugby league.
LB: It's a bit of a highlight and lowlight, the two grand finals. They were a highlight but losing them was a bit tough. Probably one of the lowlights and it has been well documented, was the goal I missed against the Tigers to send it into extra time. I think it was 20-18 and I missed one from 30 metres out, practically in front. That was another ordinary day.
NH: Definitely me. Burty is thick as two short planks. He might have some street smarts but just no commonsense.
AP: Isn't he doing uni?
NH: Anyone can do uni these days. You can get on a computer and look up your answers.
LB: Me. Easy.
Who has been the best player you have played with or against?
NH: It's hard to go past Andrew Johns. I've played with and against him. Shane Webcke, Petero Civoniceva, Danny Buderus, Nath Cayless, Johnathan Thurston, Burty … the list goes on. I think of someone who doesn't give up. You can be beaten but if you keep trying, that's good enough for me. And their game doesn't change, they're out there giving 100 per cent all the time.
LB: The best player is probably Jason Smith. Skilful, competitive, he had everything, he was probably the best. Closely followed by the likes of Hindy and all of them, but Jason Smith was the best I played with. Against? Definitely Andrew Johns.
Any strange pre-game rituals?
NH: He likes to shave his body. He likes to ''manscape'' himself before every game. Since the beginning. Because Burty is quite a hairy gentleman. He says [manscaping] makes him feel faster.
LB: I know he doesn't wash the swimmers he wears week to week. They just sit in his bag. That's what he does. And he always has Subway for lunch.
Who is the grumpier captain - Cayless or Hindmarsh?
NH: Cayless. Definitely. He got nicknamed Captain Grumpy. Don't worry about that, that speaks for itself.
LB: While Cayless was captain he was much grumpier than Hindy. But since Cayless has retired Hindy has taken over that mantle. He's just as grumpy as Cayless, he's exactly the same. They're both grumpy bastards.
Who's been the best coach you've had?
NH: Brian Smith. Just because of what he instilled in us as young guys and because of what he has taught me.
LB: That's a tough one. I'd have to say Brian Smith. With the start, he did a lot for me. He taught me a lot, the ropes in NRL and also he taught me a lot outside of footy. I've enjoyed all my coaches a lot. One of my better years was under Michael Hagan, I really enjoyed my time under Hages. He was another wonderful coach I really enjoyed playing under.
If he was down to his last $10, how would he spend it?
NH: His family, definitely. He'd do something with his kids.
LB: [Laughing] Poker machines! Nah, I'd like to think he'd spend it doing something with the kids.
Who'll cope better in life post-football?
NH: Burty, hands down.
LB: He will definitely have more tears than me in life post-football. When we go away together in the off-season he'll be crying a lot more than what I will be.
You've holidayed together. Is he active or is it more a lazy holiday?
NH: We're on par there. We both like to spend time with the kids, but as we start to wear them down and they get tired, we bring out the Esky and we start getting into cruise mode. But we'll spend a lot of the day wearing the kids out so we can sit down with a beer and have a relax ourselves and a chin wag.
LB: We holiday together, along with Cayless. He's very active, he struggles to relax, Hindy. Sometimes it's a bit annoying how active he is. When you're on holidays you're meant to relax. But when the kids are in bed, he does relax then.
Who is quicker over 150 metres?
NH: Me, probably. Burty has got me over 50 but then I just start winding up and I'd get him over 150. He's got the starts but I'd click into gear, definitely.
LB: He'd be coming at me but I'd hold on. The long distance stuff, he'd get me, but under 200 metres, I'd kill him.
Who will get the last kick at goal if the Eels score at the end?
NH: I'd like to have a kick at goal, but I don't want to take the last kick. That's something that should be left up to Burty, I think. It would be nice if the full-time siren has gone, we're in the lead and he gets to kick the goal.
LB: Without fail, he'll get a kick in the last game. We'll make sure he gets a kick.