OLD team-mate Mick Ramsden has heaped more praise on Lee Paterson ahead of the in-form loose-forward's landmark match for York City Knights.
Paterson is to make his 200th career appearance in British rugby league when the Knights go to Swinton Lions on Sunday seeking a second successive Tetley's Challenge Cup shock.
That figure does not include his time in France, playing for Carpentras, or with Mackay Cutters in Australia, and Ramsden reckons it can rise much further, too, saying the 32-year-old still has a few years left in him yet given the way he has been playing.
"It's a massive achievement for any player to get to that number of pro games these days," said Ramsden, who himself made 205 career appearances for York and Wakefield before retiring in 2005 and joining the Knights' coaching staff.
"He's been a fantastic player throughout his career and you've got think he will get many more appearances before he finishes."
Paterson, like Ramsden a product of New Earwick All Blacks ARLC, is now in his second spell with his home-town club.
He played 44 times in 2005 and 2006, scoring four tries and seven goals - including the goals that won the 2005 National League Two title in the victory at Hunslet. He was the Players' Player of the Year that season and took over the captaincy the following year.
He has also played for Keighley (58 games, 2002-2004), Batley (20 games, 2007), Widnes (33 games, 2008-2009), Swinton (1 game, 2011) and Whitehaven (30 games, 2013), and has represented Scotland (10 games, 2007-2011).
He has been a key man in three outings so far this term as the Knights have enjoyed a 100 per cent winning start to the season.
"He's been an outstanding signing for us," said Ramsden, who played alongside Paterson in 2005.
"It was the right thing to bring him back. On the field technically he does everything right and is a great example to any of our younger players with the work he does, not least off the ball, which is really important for the team.
"He's been one of our best players pushing in support and opening the defence up for the ball carrier. All those little things do so much for team."
Paterson played a fair bit at stand-off in his first spell with York, while his loose-forward role has also evolved down the years.
Said Ramsden: "We've got the middle three (two props and loose-forward) and they play similar roles for us now, with the props taking the ball into field position and the loose-forward able to stand in and do a prop's role. But we do encourage them to play a bit with the ball and the skill levels in there have gone up this year.
"Lee is made for that loose-forward role. He's got a lot of skill with the ball, he's big enough to take on the big men, and he's clever enough to know where to be positionally.
"It's like he's got stealth sometimes. He runs great lines and he reads the game very well.
"He's been around for years and knows the game inside out. His engine is still pretty good - he does 80 minutes - so he has lots of years ahead of him."
Asked if Paterson had changed as a player since his first spell, Ramsden said: "I probably didn't realise how young he was when he first played here. He might have lost a yard of pace - though that's hard to tell as he's probably quicker than he looks - but he's bigger than he used to be, and that suits the way we play."
As for Sunday's tie, Ramsden said: "Gary Thornton (head coach) and James Ford (assistant-coach) have done a lot of work on Swinton so we're well prepared. We've very confident and, with so much pace in the team this year, we're looking forward to playing on a big field."
l The supporters' coach to the tie - at Leigh Sporting Village, kick off 2pm - will leave Boroughbridge Road (opposite Ainsty) at 11am, Clarence Street at 11.15am, Huntington Stadium at 11.30am and York College at 11.40am. Seats, costing £18, can be booked by phoning 07443 564453 or the Knights on 01904 767404.