Jeremy Latimore set for his 100th NRL game

Happy to stay: Jeremy Latimore (pictured during an interview with Tupou Sopoaga) is happy to be staying with the Panthers for the next two seasons. Picture: Geoff Jones .
Happy to stay: Jeremy Latimore (pictured during an interview with Tupou Sopoaga) is happy to be staying with the Panthers for the next two seasons. Picture: Geoff Jones .

If he had the choice, it is unlikely Jeremy Latimore would pick a Monday night clash in Canberra where both teams are out of the race for the finals as the setting for his 100th NRL game.

But for the 28-year-old, just reaching 100 games is something he is proud of and he will cherish the achievement.

Latimore and fellow forwards Sam McKendry and Reagan Campbell-Gillard are the only Panthers players to feature in every game this season.

He also had a good run with injuries in 2014, with suspension the only thing costing him playing in every game.

It is a far cry from the early stages of his career, where he frequently moved between clubs and struggled to hold a spot in first grade.

After making his debut at Parramatta in 2009, Latimore played for the New Zealand Warriors and St George Illawarra Dragons, before joining Penrith in 2013.

To reach 100 games is a significant milestone for Latimore, who thought it was something that would never happen.

"Definitely early in my career, I was a bit of a nomad," he said.

"I was changing clubs and playing seven games or 13 games in a year, it wasn't until last year that I really started playing consistently.

"Ivan has showed a lot of faith in me and that's given me a lot of confidence."

Earlier in his career, Latimore rarely had the luxury of knowing where he was going to be the next season, but is now happily contracted to the Panthers for 2016 and 2017.

Journeyman: Jeremy Latimore in action against one of his former clubs- St George Illawarra, during the 2014 season.  (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

Journeyman: Jeremy Latimore in action against one of his former clubs- St George Illawarra, during the 2014 season. (Photo by Brett Hemmings/Getty Images)

"It's exciting, I've been coached by Ivan before at the Warriors, and that's made my life a bit easier," he said.

"It's not fun being off contract, if anyone tells you it is, they're probably lying and once you have a family, it goes up a notch."

Latimore is married and the proud father of Orlando, who turns two next month.

"Coming home to him is quite humbling, it always puts a smile on my face.

"Even if you've had a bad game, it doesn't matter."

Latimore is also studying for a bachelor of business at the University of Wollongong and has just two subjects left to complete his degree.

He has been doing an internship with the Penrith Panthers and said study was a good way to keep his mind active off the football field.

Latimore had a visit from his mother in the week leading up to his 100th game, but said it would be a bit hard to get his parents away from his home town of Port Macquarie for a Monday night game in Canberra.

"There's no good fishing spots for my old man in Canberra, but I'll have my wife and my son there to cheer me on, and they're my main supporters," he said.

Unlike other NRL clubs, the Panthers are not known for their grand gestures when players reach milestones and Latimore is quite happy about that.

"They give you a jersey embroidered with 100 games and they do a presentation, that's enough for me."

The Panthers play the Canberra Raiders tonight, with kick off at 7pm, before their final game of the season against the Newcastle Knights at Pepper Stadium on Saturday.

Saturday's game will also be the 200th and final game in the career of David Simmons, who has confirmed he will retire. 

This story Latimore puts nomadic days behind him to reach his 100th game first appeared on Penrith City Gazette.