Perrett 'overwhelmed' by tributes
An emotional Sam Perrett has described Thursday night's guard of honour to recognise his 250th game in the NRL as a moment he will never forget.
The Bulldogs winger celebrated the momentous occasion with a gritty 24-20 win over his former team, the Roosters, to momentarily send the blue and whites into the competition's top four.
Few players have garnered as much respect as Perrett over the years, so it came as no surprise to see '#Perrett250' trending on Twitter in Australia during the game.
The Kiwis international played 148 games for the Tricolours and has added 102 more for the Bulldogs in a 12-year career that has also featured three grand finals (2010, 2012 and 2014).
It was fitting, then, that he would bring up the milestone against the side he started his career with back in Round 15, 2004.
Perrett ran through a guard of honour from his Canterbury teammates with his children, before the Roosters followed suit with a touching tribute after the full-time siren.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson described Perrett as a "great servant of the club" and said he deserved the acknowledgement from both teams.
It's those gestures that will stay with Perrett forever.
"The fact I played 250 wasn't the big deal; the thing that really overwhelmed me tonight was the love and respect I felt from both the clubs I've played for throughout my career," Perrett told NRL.com after the game.
"I still know most of the boys here and I consider them family, from both clubs. That's what really rattled me tonight. The respect they showed me when they made a guard of honour as we ran out really rattled me."
Perrett said he was blown away by the sign of respect, especially from the Roosters who had minutes earlier suffered their 12th loss of the season.
"I would not have expected them to do that," he said.
"I wouldn't have expected our boys to do it [either]. I guess that kind of caught me off guard, both running out and then coming back in. I was a bit lost for words and just had the head down. It was overwhelming."
Having debuted back in 2004 against the Knights, Perrett said he never thought he'd one day call himself a '250-game player'.
Over the years he has developed into one of the most consistent wingers in the NRL; capable of finishing tries, safe under the high ball and always willing to make the hard yards coming out of trouble.
"I know it's pretty tough to have a long career in the NRL," he said.
"It's such a demanding sport and there are so many different challenges, so to be able to keep it going this long has been a real blessing. I've been looked after throughout my career so tonight's milestone is a group effort.
"There have been a number of highlights in my career, from grand finals, to being able to represent my country.
"In 2014 I was able to get my name up on the Bulldogs wall of awards and be named alongside James Graham. That was a pretty massive thing for me to be named Player of the Year alongside James."
Graham was full of nothing but praise for his teammate after the game; the Bulldogs skipper telling media how much respect he had for Perrett both on and off the field.
The Englishman also recalled the 2014 season fondly, crediting Perrett for his ability to make the fullback position his own despite scepticism from the outside world.
"I think I've said it about Sam before that he's the nicest bloke that I've ever met, and I've heard other people say that about him as well," Graham said.
"It says a lot about his character. He's just someone that defies all the odds. He's been a seasoned professional on the wing for a number of years.
"My lasting memory of Sam Perrett will always be that year he came in and was absolutely outstanding for us at fullback. There were a lot of doubters and he proved them all wrong."
Graham said the players were desperate to get the win for Perrett after all the service he'd given the Bulldogs since joining the club four years ago.
"Ever since he came to us halfway through that 2012 season, he's been a special part of our group," he said.
"I think 250 games in this competition is an outstanding achievement, and we just wanted to pay our respects to Sammy. It means a lot to us as a group to get the win for Sam today.
"I don't think I've ever seen him have a bad game."
Now that he's joined the 250 club, Perrett revealed there was nothing stopping him from reaching the 300 milestone.
The 31-year-old is contracted until the end of 2017 and told NRL.com he would aim to play on if he remained healthy.
"There's a very good chance it could happen," Perrett said when asked about reaching 300 games.
"I'm feeling alright, considering. I don't have to have a walking stick yet so I'm doing alright."