A Parramatta milestone for Takairangi and son
Brad Takairangi has boasted bragging rights over his old man for nine years. Or more specifically, 146 NRL games.
"He's got me by a couple of matches, yeah," dad Louis concedes, grinning. "And you know what kids can be like. Still, I'm always saying I was better.
"Reminding him that when a journalist interviewed me at Parramatta in '87, he called me 'Twinkle Toes' Takairangi."
Exactly 22 years since Takairangi Sr, a winger, made his three appearances alongside the likes of Peter Sterling, Eric Grothe and Steve Ella, son Brad will earn his own milestone in the famed blue and gold, celebrating 150 NRL games against Canberra at GIO Stadium on Sunday.
Incredibly, the Eels centre only learned of his honour during a club media session on Tuesday morning.
"Knew it was coming," he said soon after. "Just didn't realise it was this soon."
Nor did Dad.
That gifted Cook Island flyer who, after first leaving home for New Zealand in his teens, then up and moved again at 18, crossing the ditch to Australia.
But as for chasing a rugby league dream?
"Nah," Louis laughs. "I came here as a dancer".
"You know those Polynesian dance groups?" he continues. "There was one of those doing shows around the Sydney club scene, but they were one guy short. So I signed up.
"At the time, I was a rugby union player and absolutely hated league. Thought it was all elbows to the face."
So what changed?
"Met a couple of Islanders down at the pub," he said. "I'd started working at a Caringbah glass factory and they said I should play. So I did.
"Miranda Raiders B-Grade. And first game, I fell in love it immediately."
Signed soon after to Cronulla, Takairangi played lower grades with the Sharks before switching to Parramatta after their historic '86 premiership win.
Thrust into first grade almost immediately, he wore No.5 into a couple of games before then being shifted back to reserves where, in match against Illawarra, he copped a knee to the head while scoring, started convulsing on the ground and was rushed to hospital.
"Had a blood clot next to my temple," he recalls. "Extremely lucky it wasn't worse. Still, I should've played a lot more first grade."
Apart from the head knock, Takairangi admits some lifestyle choices away from footy also meant that, while he continued in the game until his 40s, there were no more first grade appearances.
Yet of those three he did play, well, one just happened to be among Parramatta's most unforgettable - a 30-22 comeback win over Canberra, after trailing 22-zip at the break.
"Highlight of my life," Takairangi says of the comeback. "Sterlo was incredible that afternoon.
"And now to see my son playing his 150th game, I'm just so proud. All our family is."
And why not?
Understanding Takairangi's milestone is testament to the perseverance and fight of a fella who, after initially humping his swag through Cronulla, South Sydney, the Roosters and Gold Coast, then signed with the Eels on a one-year deal.
That was five winters ago. And still, it gets no easier for the 29-year-old who is again off contract.
"Signing for that one year, I just backed myself," Takairangi Jr said this week. "And that's what I'm doing again now.
"I definitely feel at home here. I love this place."
And as for marking 150 games at the same club as Dad?
"Special," he said.
"When I initially signed with Parramatta, I didn't think it would impact him at all. But when I rang to tell dad what had happened, he broke down.
"So Sunday, it's a very proud moment for me and my family."