PENRITH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 17: Reed Mahoney of the Eels passes during the round one NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Parramatta Eels at Panthers Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Penrith, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

He knew he’d need a number of things to go his way this season and it was never a guarantee, but Parramatta Eels hooker Reed Mahoney is now destined to reach his 100-game milestone for the club that gave him his NRL debut before he departs for the Bulldogs.

According to the industrious dummy-half, the fact that his milestone is coming in the most meaningful game of his career so far only sweetens the significance of the moment.

“I knew it was coming close, I wanted to make it (to game 100) before I left,” Mahoney told Zero Tackle.

“It’s come as the most vital game of my career in a Parramatta jersey, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

The milestone is a just reward for Mahoney, who is one of just a handful of Eels to have played every game for the club this season. It’s been made even sweeter after he was forced to miss last year’s ill-fated finals campaign after suffering a shoulder injury toward the end of the year.

While he couldn’t have secured the achievement without an injury and suspension-free 2022, he also wouldn’t have made it this far without his team mates, who are now preparing to contest their first preliminary final since 2009.

“There isn’t a more important game I’d want to be playing in,” Mahoney said.

“The last few years we’d be finished by now, but last year really hurt. Now we’re playing our best footy at the right time this year.

“This week is the biggest challenge for most of us in our career, not just me.

Despite a slow start to the year, the Eels have continued to improve, finishing in fourth place and securing an extra bite at the cherry after going down to Penrith in the first week - but Mahoney says the side has improved even since then.

“We know the squad we have here, and probably over the last month we’ve gelled really well and we’re working really hard for each other.

“It’s the things people and fans don’t see, but we do internally. People turning up when they’re absolutely out on their feet, little things, little moments are why you win big games. It goes to show the quality of the squad.”

Though the club isn’t lacking in motivation with so much history on the line, co-captain Clint Gutherson is well aware of the significance of Mahoney’s achievement and says the team is determined to celebrate the achievement with a win and send him off with fond memories of his time at the club.

“We’re pretty big on milestone games here and we’ve been pretty good at celebrating them with a win,” Gutherson said.

“For Reed to be leaving and have 100 games at the club, it’s a big achievement. Not many people get to do it but we’d love to send him off with a couple of wins and into his new career at the Bulldogs a happy man with good memories here.”