Gentle full of admiration for Menzies
Hull FC coach Peter Gentle is hoping to bring the record-breaking career of Steve Menzies to an end on Friday night but admits he would love to extend it into 2014 if the 39-year-old changes his retirement plans.
The evergreen Australian centre or second rower has decided to call time on his 21 years as a player at the end of the season, which will be on Friday night if Catalan Dragons lose to Hull in the first Super League elimination play-off at the KC Stadium.
Menzies has continued to defy logic by playing at a consistently high standard long after his team-mates hung up their boots and fellow Australian Gentle, who has followed his career ever since he burst onto the scene with Manly Sea Eagles in 1993, reckons he could carry on well after his 40th birthday in December.
"What he's doing defies belief," Gentle said. "I still think he's too young to give it away.
"He's going as good now as when he first came into the game. If he's looking for a team to run around with next year, I'll give him a game. I think he's still got plenty to offer."
Menzies, who won the first of his 15 caps for the Kangaroos in 1994 and played in the 1995 World Cup final at Wembley, spent 16 seasons with Manly, where he became the most prolific forward in the history of the NRL, with 180 tries from 349 appearances.
He was 35 when he came to Super League for the start of the 2009 season but, after two years with Bradford Bulls, he has enjoyed three more seasons in the south of France and is still running in the tries.
"I know he's held in very high regard over here but he is thought of even more highly back home," Gentle said.
"It might be a good trivia question in years to come. Where did he play his last game and hopefully the answer to that is the KC Stadium."
Menzies, who is planning to return to Manly to become an ambassador for the club, was given a guard of honour alongside outgoing Catalan captain Remi Casty at the Dragons' final home game of the season last weekend.
It promises to be another emotional night in Hull but Catalan assistant coach David Waite, the former Great Britain head coach, knows the occasion will not get to the veteran Menzies.
"He just takes it all in his stride," Waite said. "He's an unflappable character.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to have something to do with him in his career because most Australians put him right up there with anybody who has played the game.
"I remember his first Grand Final in 1996 when I was coaching St George and we played Manly and I've looked on with admiration at the rest of his career."
Waite is confident Menzies' retirement will be put on hold for at least one more week.
The Dragons have slid down the table from fourth to seventh over the last three months but back-to-back wins over Bradford and Wigan Warriors, followed by narrow defeats at the hands of Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves, suggest they are finishing the season in good form.
"We've had a particularly strong month," Waite said.
"Of course, our preference would be to play in the south of France but our away record isn't that bad, certainly not bad in big games.
"I've always said that Catalan, at their very best, will frighten any of the top four. We've been able to be there or thereabouts on most occasions this year.
"Even though it's a bit difficult to reach the Grand Final from sixth or seventh, nothing is impossible."