Queanbeyan Kangaroos players reach 200-game milestone together

Milestone men: Josh Ayers and Troy Whiley will play their 200th games together on Saturday for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Milestone men: Josh Ayers and Troy Whiley will play their 200th games together on Saturday for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos. Photo: Rohan Thomson

To play 200 games in first grade rugby league is a massive achievement. To reach the milestone in the same game as a teammate is just remarkable.

That will be the case when Troy Whiley and Josh Ayers run out for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos against the Yass Magpies at Freebody Oval this Saturday.

Ayers played 12 seasons with the Gungahlin Bulls before joining the Kangaroos in 2016. Whiley played his whole senior career in a Roos jersey, something that has impressed his teammate.

"To play 200 first-grade games for one club is a massive achievement," Ayers said.

"I didn't really want anyone to know I was playing my 200th game. I'd rather everyone be talking about Troy and what he's done for the Roos.

"One of the reasons I wanted to join the Roos was blokes like Troy."

During Whiley's junior football days the Kangaroos weren't always able to field a team leading him to cross the great divide and suit up for the Blues between under-13s to under-16s.

But he returned at his first opportunity in the under-18s and soon made his first-grade debut - he was particularly proud of playing in 18s, reserves and first grade all on that day.

Whiley has no doubts that the Kangaroos club is a major reason for his career longevity.

"I thought they were good enough to give me a chance, I'd better repay the favour and here I am 15 years later," Whiley said.

"Everyone says you'll be a long time retired and so I've always thought one more year, one more year and here I am."

Ayers also said his first grade debut was a career highlight, although it was unclear if he was speaking about the time when he played as a 16-year-old under someone else's name or when he was finally old enough at 18.

One thing Ayers was certain of was that not yet winning a premiership "is the worst thing".

Whiley has been a part of three Roos premierships across his 200 games, captaining the side in their winning 2013 season.

He has so far contributed 83 tries and 55 goals for the club playing mainly from the second row.

Ayers has scored a few more tries than his mate with 90, he also represented Canberra in eight Country Rugby League games between 2011 and 2015.

On top of their stellar rugby league careers both men have led active lives away from the sport.

Father-of-four Ayers works operating machinery for a plumbing company, while Whiley runs his own carpentry business.

Both men agree though that there is one thing that has kept them in the game for so long.

"I just love it. There's nothing better than running out on the footy field with your mates that you go to battle with," Whiley said.

Ayers added: "Playing every week with a good bunch of boys has always been the highlight. If I didn't love it I wouldn't do it."

CANBERRA RAIDERS CUP ROUND 16

Saturday: Belconnen United Sharks v Goulburn Workers Bulldogs at O'Connor, 3pm; Queanbeyan Kangaroos v Yass Magpies at Freebody Oval, 3pm; Queanbeyan Blues v Woden Valley Rams at Seiffert Oval 3pm.

Sunday: West Belconnen Warriors v Tuggeranong Bushrangers at Kippax, 3pm.