DAN KEMMISH said he was “very proud” to lead Bridgwater & Albion out at Devonport Services on Saturday, on what was his 400th 1st XV appearance for the club.

Kemmish, 43, remains a key part of the team in his 17th season with the club, having joined from North Petherton.

He told the Mercury: “I’m very proud to have achieved 400 games.

“This club has a proud history and they keep tabs on player appearances, with lists of players to have gone before – so to be on that list is a proud moment for me.”

Kemmish made his debut in November 2003, at Cleve in an RFU Intermediate Cup match, and has seen plenty of ups and downs at the club.

“The season after I joined, we won promotion through the play-offs, which was very exciting,” he said.

“We were in the National League for five years [until 2010], and it was great to have that serious competition and test ourselves against top quality sides.

“That time also coincided with the peak of my career, when I was in my late 20s, as the club dropping down a couple of divisions came at the right time for me personally, as I got older.”

In terms of what has been behind his longevity in the game, Kemmish said: “I love the game, I have a real passion for it and I want to keep improving.

“My decline in fitness has been gradual, and fortunately I’ve managed to stay away from major injuries.”

Albion lost out to league leaders Devonport at the weekend (see below), but Kemmish believes that the team have what it takes to push on at the top of the table.

“We have a sprinkle of older guys, in their 30s or 40s, and a good crop of youngsters,” he added.

“It’s a good mix, and it keeps you young!

“I think we can definitely push for promotion this year.

“We’re looking at the league above, because that’s where we want to be.”

Kemmish also believes that rugby is in a strong place in Bridgwater as a whole, with Albion and North Petherton both competing strongly at South West 1 West level.

He said: “It’s good to have those Albion versus Pethy derbies every year, as there’s a lot of talent in the area to support two top quality teams.

“I think the rivalry is a good thing for both clubs.”

As for his own future, Kemmish says he would consider coaching once his playing days do eventually come to a close.

“I want to keep my options open – it would be hard for me to leave the game completely.”