Melbourne Storm winger Marcus Bai will establish a landmark for club and country when he celebrates his 150th first grade match against the Bulldogs this Sunday at Olympic Park.
As Bai lines up for his 132nd game in Storm colours the Papua New Guinean will also equal former hooker Richard Swain?s record for the most first grade appearances for Melbourne.
And having taken over Adrian Lam?s record for the most first grade appearances by a Papua New Guinean two weeks ago (147 games), Bai believes this weekend?s match is as much for PNG as it is for the Storm.
?Sunday will be a big game for me but really I think it?s a milestone for me and a milestone for Papua New Guinea as no one from that country has reached this mark before,? Bai said.
?When I first came to Melbourne I thought I was no chance of reaching 100 games, then I reached that mark and thought I couldn?t make 150 games, particularly with some of the injuries I?ve had.?
As a foundation player 31-year-old Bai joined the Storm in 1998 after one season with the defunct Gold Coast Charges.
It didn?t take long for the Melbourne faithful to warm to the winger?s electrifying brand of football, so much so that to this day there are a section of terraces at Olympic Park known as the unofficial Marcus Bai Stand.
After slicing his arm on ground signage in 2000 Bai?s prolific try scoring feats where slowed somewhat but he still remains on top of the Storm?s all-time try scorer?s list with 64 touchdowns.
Bai is the first to acknowledge he started the 2003 season slowly but believes he is now regaining the form that saw him crowned Dally M winger of the year in his first season with Melbourne.
?The things that I?ve done best in the past I haven?t done in the last 2-3 years due to injury and being a bit down on form, but the last couple of weeks I?ve started to get back into my routine in the game,? Bai explained.
He also admits to overcomplicating his natural game when Storm coach Craig Bellamy first arrived at the club last year, an area he has continually worked at this season.
?I am a very slow learner, if someone tells me something it takes me ages to really simplify it down and this year I have had to tell myself to get back to basics,? Bai added.
?I talked to Craig earlier in the year and I thought I was playing alright but it wasn?t really that good for the team overall. I was letting in a few tries on my side of the ground - which isn?t part of my game.
?At the start of this year I began with 20 things running through my head but then about four weeks ago I started to return to a simple game of getting the ball forward, involving myself and being patient on the outside.?
Despite coming out of contract at season?s end the veteran of 14 Tests is not concerned with his long-term future, preferring to focus on making the finals again this year.
?It would be nice to build on the (most Storm games played) record over the next couple of years but I just focus on playing football and making the finals again ? I don?t let contract stuff worry me.?
THE BAI FILE: ? Will log 150 first grade games this week ? Will equal club record of most first grade appearances (132) this week ? Holds all-time record for most first grade appearances by a Papua New Guinean (149) ? Holds all-time Storm record for most tries scored (64)Like