allblacks.com 22.Mar.2013Getty Images
Both players will lead their respective teams on to the field at Waikato Stadium ahead of the Chiefs v Highlanders clash tonight, as they celebrate significant milestones in their Super Rugby careers.
Messam recorded his 100th Super Rugby game against the Kings in Port Elizabeth last week – the first player to ever record all 100 matches for the reigning champion Chiefs. Tonight’s match is focussed on celebrating the loose forward’s unique milestone. Messam, who turns 29 on Monday, will captain the Chiefs in tonight’s match against the Highlanders.
Meanwhile, it is also a special night for Chris King who will play his 100th match in a Super Rugby career which started with the Crusaders in 2003. He has been a Highlander since 2005.
New Zealand Rugby Chairman Mike Eagle congratulated both men on reaching the 100 match milestone.
“In this modern era of professional rugby, it really is remarkable to be able to celebrate outstanding athletes who record 100 matches in what is known as the best inter-regional rugby competition in the world.
“Liam’s achievement is a special event for the Chiefs and their fans. He has an impressive rugby CV that so far includes 20 All Blacks Test caps and Commonwealth Gold and Sevens World Series titles. He has already made a wonderful contribution to rugby having played in the New Zealand Under 16, Secondary Schools, Under 19 and Under 21 teams and he has captained the Maori All Blacks.
“This is a proud milestone for Liam and the Chiefs, and we congratulate him,” Mr Eagle said.
Chiefs CEO Gary Dawson said Messam stood out from the outset as someone with huge potential, good character and values.
“It has been a privilege to watch him evolve into a world class rugby player. Over time he has worked on his game and adapted it to suit the needs of the team. He has shown character at times of adversity and taken his opportunities, proving that success comes with being dedicated and working hard.
“He brings to the Chiefs club loyalty, great mana, leadership and is an important role model. Therefore it is fitting to have Liam as our first player to reach 100 games for the Chiefs."
Former Chiefs player and Coach and current All Blacks Assistant Coach Ian Foster will present a special greenstone mere, New Zealand Rugby’s gift to Super Rugby centurions, at the conclusion of tonight’s match.
Chris King has opted to have his greenstone mere presented to him in front of his home crowd at Forsyth Barr Stadium next week when the Highlanders host the Reds.
Mike Eagle said: “Chris King is one of those players who, quietly but steadily, has been an outstanding, solid stalwart for his team. His path into professional rugby has been very much steeped in his strong provincial rugby background, which has been a big part of his contribution to the team. He has celebrated the rare feat of lifting the Ranfurly Shield for both the Stags in 2011 and for Taranaki last year.
“We congratulate Chris on this fantastic achievement and wish him well.”
Highlanders CEO Roger Clarke said: “Chris is a dedicated player and it is that dedication and commitment that has enabled him to play 100 Super Rugby games. On and off the field his is the consummate professional. It is a real honour to play 100 games and it places him with the very best of the players who have played in the competition. We congratulate him and his family on this significant achievement.”
New Zealand Rugby Director Graham Cooney will present King’s mere to him in Dunedin next week.