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Hornby bond makes farewell hard for Soward

Of all the treasured memories Jamie Soward has of St George Illawarra's 2010 NRL premiership victory, it is a photo with halves partner Ben Hornby that he cherishes most.
Hornby bond makes farewell hard for Soward
by NRL

By Steve Jancetic

SYDNEY, Sept 1 AAP - Of all the treasured memories Jamie Soward has of St George Illawarra's 2010 NRL premiership victory, it is a photo with halves partner Ben Hornby that he cherishes most.

While most of the focus of that triumph was on the club's drought-breaking accomplishment, for Soward and Hornby it was a chance to "stick it up" the critics who said they could never lead a team to a title.

That bond they share is why Soward took news of Hornby's impending retirement so hard, and he approaches Sunday's season finale at ANZ Stadium - when teammate Dean Young along with Parramatta duo Nathan Hindmarsh and Luke Burt will also farewell the NRL - Soward said he would never forget what he and Hornby had to endure.

"Myself and Benny, we've copped so much criticism over the years - to know we won that comp together in 2010, it just pretty much sticks it up everyone," Soward told AAP.

"That's something that no one can take away from us, no one can ever say anything now.

"At the time it was a tough time for us - our team had won back-to-back minor premierships and we thought we'd shut everyone up by doing that - to go out and win really silenced everyone once and for all.

"... I said it on stage (after the win) 'people said we wouldn't win with Benny Hornby at halfback'.

"We probably realise we're not the most outstanding halves pairing ever, but we've got the ring - that's all we care about."

"(That's why) the photo of me and him holding that trophy is pretty special, because there's plenty of players that don't get to play in a grand final let alone win one - to do it with him after all we went through, all the baggings we copped, it was pretty good."

One such decorated player to never win a title is Hindmarsh, though as a backrower who gave his all every time he took to the field, he never bore any criticism for the Eels grand final losses in 2001 and 2009.

With 329 games to his name, no other player has played more NRL matches without a premiership title after last week's loss to South Sydney moved him move past title-less former Cronulla great Andrew Ettingshausen.

Asked if the fact this would be his final game had sunk in, Hindmarsh said:

"I think it won't really hit me until the boys get stuck into pre-season, trial games, first comp game - I think that's when it will really sink in.

"I'm very lucky - injuries have been good to me and the game's been good to me."




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