Born: 2 July, 1975 – Tamworth, NSW
Test record: 20 Tests (1999-2003) – 4 tries, 15 goals (46 points)
Tours: 1999 Tri Nations, 2000 World Cup, 2002 tour of Great Britain and France

Tamworth-born hooker Richard Swain was a clever dummy-half operator, tackling machine and a handy goalkicker, winning a premiership with Melbourne and becoming a Test regular for New Zealand.

Swain won a reserve grade premiership with Newcastle in 1995 and made his first-grade debut with Hunter Mariners in 1997. He played 13 games, predominantly off the bench as understudy to former-Origin rake Robbie McCormack, and was an interchange in the Mariners’ World Club Challenge loss to Brisbane at the end of the year.

After the club folded, Swain joined team-mates and fellow future internationals Brett Kimmorley, Robbie Ross and Scott Hill as part of the inaugural Melbourne Storm squad. Swain played every game for the Storm – a feat he would repeat in the ensuing four seasons – as the fledgling club qualified for the 1998 NRL finals.

Swain debuted for the Kiwis in the 1999 Anzac Test, coming off the bench in a gallant 20-14 loss in Sydney. The 24-year-old was an unsung hero but vital cog in Melbourne’s premiership success that year and celebrated grand final glory with selection in New Zealand’s Tri Nations squad. Swain played in all three against Australia and Great Britain and scored his first try in the black-and-white jersey in a non-tournament Test against Tonga.

Perennially the top tackler in the NRL, Swain was ultra-consistent in helping the Storm the 2000 finals before starting at hooker in all five matches of the Kiwis’ memorable World Cup campaign, which ended with defeat to Australia in the final.

Swain passed a major milestone in 2001 when he became the first NRL player to top 1,000 tackles in a season, meanwhile retaining the New Zealand No.9 jersey for mid-season Tests against France and Australia.

Swain was shown the door by Melbourne at the end of the year, causing great consternation amongst the Storm faithful with the plucky rake having played every game since the club’s inception – though future legend Cameron Smith would assume his spot in 2003.

Swain responded to the setback by scoring a try and kicking four goals in New Zealand’s plucky 32-24 post-season Test loss to Australia and toured Britain and France with the Kiwis, racking up 16 points in a big win over Wales (one try, six goals) and adding another four goals in the drawn series with Great Britain.

Swain joined Brisbane but his ironman run of consecutive first grade games came to end with an injury after 10 rounds of 2003; his unbroken streak of 147 games was the second-longest in premiership history to that point. After a solid season with the Broncos, during which he played his final Test in New Zealand’s 48-6 loss to Australia, Swain took up a deal with Hull and continued his remarkable durability and tireless tackling in Super League.

Swain captained Hull to Challenge Cup glory in 2005, charging down a last-gasp field goal attempt from Leeds’ Kevin Sinfield in the final to keep the score at 25-24. He was a highly-regarded import and skippered the club to its first grand final in 2006 (a loss to St Helens), but was forced to retire prematurely during 2007 due to a back injury.

Only Kiwis greats Duane Mann, Jock Butterfield, Issac Luke, Colin O’Neil and Howie Tamati have started in more Tests at hooker than Swain’s 18.