When the Raiders run onto the GIO Stadium turf in their crucial encounter with Parramatta on Saturday afternoon, the clash will hold extra meaning for Canberra halfback Aidan Sezer.
The playmaker is set to feature in his 100th first-grade game in the NRL, an achievement he is deeply proud of.
“It’s a nice, little milestone,” the 25-year-old said.
“Very grateful to play the game I love.”
Sezer opened his account with the Gold Coast Titans – pulling the strings for the Queensland outfit in seasons 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 – but has produced his best football for the men in green.
His strong kicking game and adept organisation of the backs proved pivotal to the Raiders securing their first preliminary final berth since 1997 in 2016.
Earlier in the season, Sezer’s red-hot form saw him make his Country v City Origin debut for New South Wales City.
He repaid the faith of coach Brad Fittler, playing a major hand in the gallant 44-30 victory to stamp himself as a genuine State of Origin contender.
Just over two months earlier, Sezer chiselled out a debut performance infinitely more impressive, bagging two four-pointers in the Raiders’ 30-22 home win over Penrith.
This was despite not only carrying a fractured cheekbone for the majority of the match, but missing halves-partner Blake Austin for just over 30 minutes of the second stanza.
Sezer looked right at home in notching his first try, putting second-rower Josh Papalii through a gap with a deft short-ball before scooting back into the attacking line to cross in the left corner.
His second try showcased a complete illustration of individual brilliance, the debutant cutting through the Panthers’ defence with a razor-sharp left-foot step to carry three desperate defenders over the chalk.
But Sezer’s journey to 100 first-grade appearances hasn’t come with as much ease as his second try in Raiders colours.
“It’s taken me a while (to reach 100 games) because of a few little injuries,” Sezer admitted.
The worst of the lot was a pectoral tear in 2014 that saw the then Titans playmaker watch from the sidelines for three months of football.
Sezer is buoyant ahead of his milestone game against the Eels, saying the achievement has “added motivation to get the win this week.”
Written by Zac Gates