Geyer in a field of his own

Storm veteran Matt Geyer has carved his name into the rugby league history books in more ways than one, but if you ask the man himself, the awards and accolades that have been bestowed upon him over the years are as much a surprise to him as anyone else.

Having been rejected by Penrith Panthers, the club that made his brother Mark a household name, Boofa, as he is known to everyone, ventured to Super League's western outpost, the Perth Reds in 1995 on a $2000 contract to be paid over ten instalments.

"I was talking to my family about my future and my brother said, ‘why don't you come to Perth with me'," said Matt.

"It was just an off the cuff remark, but I said ok and that was it, I was off to Perth.

"I lived with my brother and his wife for the first year and then sorted myself out after that with a few of the other players.

"I never thought I really chased the dream thought, I was just going over there for the experience and to see a bit of Australia I guess. But looking back, I guess I did give it my best shot and it got me to Melbourne."

By the end of his three years at the Reds he had played six games, and with the Perth based club folding, Geyer was unsure what the future had in store for him.

"I had just signed a new contract with Perth before they folded. I wanted to stay there because I loved the city and I was happy there," said Geyer.

"I would have been happy with my six games. When I left Perth I decided if I never played first-grade footy again I was happy with that."

However, in 1998 Melbourne Storm had joined the new NRL competition, and Geyer was belatedly signed by then coach Chris Anderson, becoming one of the club's foundation players.

"I turned up to training in mid-December, so I was behind everyone else," said Geyer.

"Before that I was just waiting to see what happened. If I got picked I got picked up, if not I wouldn't have been too disheartened."

Eight years and 199 games for the Storm later, this Friday night against the Sharks at Olympic Park Geyer will become the first player to reach the 200 game milestone for the club, a feat he readily admits he never dreamed possible.

Geyer's list of achievements since joining the Storm would make even the best players to have ever played the game proud.

In terms of point scoring, he holds the club records for most tries in a match (4 v Auckland in Round 20, 2000 and v Wests in Round 10, 1999); most points in a match (34 – 4 tries and 9 goals v Wests in Round 10, 1999); leading points scorer in a season (242 in 1999); and leading try scorer in a season (20 in 1999, and 14 in 2000).

However, it is the personal accolades he is most proud of.

In 1998, Geyer kicked the winning points in the grand final victory over the St George Illawarra Dragons after a penalty try was awarded to Craig Smith in the dying minutes of the game after a crude tackle by Jamie Ainscough.

That premiership success brought with it representative honours when he was selected to play for New South Wales in the 1999 drawn State of Origin series.

Matt was voted Clubman of the Year in 2002 and his form has been so good over the years, he was even selected to play for City against Country Origin in 2006.

And his service to Melbourne Storm was recognised at the 2005 End of Season Ball, when he was chosen, along with fellow foundation player and good friend Robbie Kearns, to receive life membership.

"It gets a bit clichéd when saying I just love playing with my mates and for the club, but I really do," said Geyer.

"But out of all of my achievements, the premiership is my most treasured memory. After the Reds, if I didn't play another game of football I would have been happy, but to go on and play in a premiership was a dream come true.

"Having said all that, playing 200 games for the Club will be one of my most treasured memories. To be one of the last from the inaugural 25, and to be the first to this milestone having had the players we've had here, I will hold very near and dear to me."

In one way, his worth to the club can be measured by the amount of points he has scored over his career. However, it is the intangible qualities he brings to the club that makes him indispensable.

"Boofa's what epitomises this club, mate," Storm and Kangaroo player Matt King told The Age.

"I remember my first day here, it was like we were best mates straight away. He came up and wanted to know where I was from and how I was doing, he's just a champion, champion bloke. He's like that with every single player that comes to the club and I'm really glad that the club's repaid his loyalty."

"He's playing some real good footy at the moment and he deserves the two years . . . I'm really happy for him. I'm stoked, actually. The Storm really loves to be known as a family club and Boofa's a real big family man . . everyone loves him and he's a real good leader for the club."

Geyer recently signed an extension to his current contract with the Melbourne Storm until the end of the 2008 season, and it should come as no surprise that everyone associated with the club from players and coaches, to administrators and fans were delighted with the good news.

After all, when you think of Melbourne Storm, you think of Matt Geyer.

MATT GEYER'S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS:

• Perth Reds (1995-1997) – 6 games
• Melbourne Storm (1998 – present) – 199 games
• NSW State of Origin (1999) – 3 games
• City Origin – 2 games (2002 and 2006)
• Premierships – 1 (1999)
• Melbourne Storm Life Member inductee 2005
• Melbourne Storm Clubman of the year 2002
• Melbourne Storm season leading try scorer – 1999 (20) and 2000 (14)
• Melbourne Storm season leading point scorer – 1999 (242)
• Melbourne Storm most tries in a match – 4 v Auckland in Round 20, 2000 and 4 v Western Suburbs Magpies in Round 10, 1999
• Melbourne Storm most points in a match – 34 (4 tries and 9 goals) v Western Suburbs Magpies in Round 10, 1999
• The story so far…199 games, 94 tries, 101 goals, 578 points

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