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Hilder's road to Newcastle via the Gold Coast

Matt Hilder might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think about the NRL’s 200 club.

However, sure enough, Hilder finished his career with 201 first grade games to his name when he retired at the conclusion of the 2013 season.

While 101 of those games were played in the red and blue, Hilder’s early career trajectory had him at Cronulla for the first three seasons, before being tempted across the border to a brand-new Gold Coast outfit.


“I just felt they (the Sharks) weren’t too interested in keeping me,” Hilder told the Our Town Our Team Podcast.

“They offered me a contract, but I just felt like it was more of a charity contract.

“I was in their plans but not greatly, so it was good to get a bit of interest from someone else.”

The Titans were gearing up for their first season, with the fledging outfit due to play their first game in 2007.

In an effort to strengthen their roster, they turned to Hilder was his valuable status as a utility.

“They outlined what they wanted my role to be, and it interested me,” he said.

“Johnny Cartwright just wanted me to play a bit of five-eighth and be a support to Scotty Prince.”

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The experience of joining a club in its first season was interesting one for Hilder, with the Titans basing themselves at a makeshift home in Runaway Bay while their new stadium was still being constructed.

“We all (the players) got together and it was a bit weird, but it didn’t take long before we all clicked,” Hilder said.

“We were training out of Runaway Bay Sporting Complex, Billy Johnson had his gym set up, so it was a pretty good gym but the field was pretty ordinary because we trained over the road on a synthetic track.”

Hilder only spent 12 months on the glitter strip before deciding to make the move to Newcastle.

“I enjoyed it but I was only there for a year,” he said.

“They did offer me a contract, but Brian Smith spoke to me and he just sounded more-keen.”