He’s played five Tests for Australia and spent 17 seasons in the world’s toughest rugby league competitions, but that hasn’t stopped Joel Monaghan appreciating all Group Nine has to offer.
Monaghan played 165 games in the NRL before heading to the English Super League.
After returning home he linked with Albury.
While injury and travel limited him to the eight games so far this season, the 36-year-old has enjoyed his time with the Thunder.
“It’s been a bit stop-start as I didn’t get to play all the games,” Monaghan said.
“I put a few together there but obviously living in Melbourne it was a bit difficult.
“But I was quite impressed with the quality.
“I’ve seen a few other mates play around Canberra and I reckon it is as good as any other comp going around. It has been a good year with good fellas.”
Travelling up the Hume Highway to link with former Raiders teammate, and Albury captain-coach, Adrian Purtell, Monaghan added plenty of class to the Thunder back line.
While the number one jersey may be too small for him, he’s mostly played at fullback for the team.
He rues their unfortunate pattern of tight losses.
Albury have only won five games, but eight losses have been by 10 points or less.
After playing for so long at such a high level, Monaghan knew he’d struggle to completely give the game away.
That’s why he jumped at the chance to join Purtell at the Thunder and hasn’t ruled out a second season.
“I’ve spoke to Purts and we will we talk about doing something next year,” Monaghan said.
“I’ve missed the last couple of weeks injured so I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and talk to him, but no doubt we will catch up with the last game being this weekend and we will talk about it then.
“But I’ve really enjoyed it, they are a good bunch of fellas and it is a good town.
“I’ve really enjoyed the people there and they are right behind their rugby league, which is good to see.”
Monaghan played most of his games at Greenfield Park and hopes to be playing there on Sunday.
However he remains in doubt to tackle Gundagai with a back complaint.
Albury have scored big win in their last two games, but Purtell expects a different test from the finals bound Tigers.
“It is important to try and finish the season, but we have a good test this weekend,” Purtell said.
“The last two teams are a probably a bit like us and have been struggling a bit with injuries so this will be a real good test and we want to try and finish it on a high.”