Black Sticks stalwart Phil Burrows is about to become the first New Zealand hockey player to reach 300 international caps.
Currently at 295 games, barring any misfortune he will join the exclusive ‘300 club' during the World League tournament in Rotterdam, starting next Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Wellingtonian debuted for the Black Sticks against Great Britain in 2000 as a 19-year-old.
He is the country's leading goalscorer with 137 goals to his name.
The only current player who comes close to him in terms of experience is captain Dean Couzins, currently on 278 caps.
Burrows says notching up 300 games will be a special moment.
"To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't mind at all playing another 100," he said.
Burrows's career highlights are his debut game, a Commonwealth Games silver medal in 2002 and attending his first Olympic Games [Athens 2004] where he finished as the tournament's top goal scorer.
Burrows is renowned for his speed and fitness on the turf and his straight talking off it.
So what's the secret to his longevity?
"The first and most important I think is my love of the game," he said. "Fun on and off the field plays a huge part but a healthy lifestyle, gym work, running and stretching are all important.
"The fact that I can live, play and train as a professional athlete in Europe plays a massive part in my longevity with the Black Sticks."
Burrows rates Australia, the Netherlands and Germany as his toughest opponents.
As the game has evolved over time, so too has his approach.
He has become more focused on aerial skills as European teams increasingly turn to lifting skills to eliminate defenders.
When he finally puts down his stick, Burrows hopes to be remembered "as a player who works the hardest on the pitch but also has great skill".
The Black Sticks face Netherlands, India and Ireland during pool play at the World League before they progress to the cross-over playoffs.
The tournament will run from June 12-26.
- The Dominion Post
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