Darren Albert by Dave Dooley: Darren Albert was born in Auburn, Sydney, Australia on the 28th. of February, 1976. This 'Blond Bomber' joined Saints for 2002 in a two-year deal after flying in for 65 tries in 89 games for Newcastle Knights. The NSW State of Origin winger grabbed the winning try for Newcastle, coached by Mal Reilly, in their 1997 Grand Final win over Manly. In his last season down under he notched 16 tries in 23 games for the Knights in 2001.
Regarded as one of the fastest wingers in the game Darren was a lethal finisher who also specialised in long range tries. At the Saints he ably stepped in for Paul Wellens in the full back role and displayed more than useful defensive capabilities under the 'high bomb', returning an attacking kick or in 'one on one' tackle situations.
Darren's first season in the UK was outstanding. He made his debut for the Club in the driving rain against Oldham on the 10th. of February 2002. His first points for the Club came when he scored a neat try against Salford as part of the 34 points to 2 home victory on March 8th., 2002. In a mid-season purple patch Darren raced in for three hat-tricks in his first season. The first of these was in the 42 points to 16 Challenge Cup semi-final demolition of Leeds (14/4/02) when Darren's safe hands were available on the touchline to finish off two slick passing moves across the paddock. His third try that day demonstrated his speed off the mark and timing as he collected a perfectly executed Sean Long grubber kick - the big TV replay only served to verify that the move was in no way an optical illusion.
Two other triples against Halifax (3/5/02) and Warrington (3/8/02) both included long-range efforts that demonstrated the futility of chasing Darren once he has broken the defence. The final hat trick was part of a 72 points to 2 victory over Warrington that was a significant contribution in sealing the top spot over Bradford Bulls on points difference. Darren ended the 2002 with two personal accolades. He was top of the club try charts with 25 tries and made a total of 37 appearances for the Saints. Darren started every game for the club in his first season! Albert played 26 times on the right wing, 8 occasions as full back and three times in the centres. However, these notional playing positions often belied Ian Millward?s tactics of constantly switching positions to maximise opportunities in attacking positions. Darren Albert's spatial awareness in the match situation made him a perfect candidate to execute the orders of the master coach. The super league champions winners' ring was a just reward for this man from down under.
The flexibility of Darren Albert was further evidenced during the 2003 campaign. One of the highlights of the first half of the season was the defensive display of Darren particularly in cover defence. Match after match Albert defended the Saints line with brilliant last ditch tackles. The hard, dry summer of 2003 witnessed the attacking prowess of Darren as he raced in for 16 tries in his first 23 matches maintaining his reputation as a regular match attendee and clinical finisher. This haul included braces of touchdowns against Wigan (away), Huddersfield (home) and Wakefield (away) in league matches.
Darren was rampant during the start of the season 2004 as Saints embarked on a 'Mission Impossible' to lift the Challenge Cup by defeating the then top sides. In the Cardiff sunshine Darren was thrice just touchline millimetres from sparkling tries. Nevertheless, his contributions were rewarded with a Challenge Cup Final victory over the old enemy. Off the field disruption cutailed Saints' drive for another Super League title in 2004. Darren ended the campaign having a Saints' career ties total of 60 tries from 96 matches. The last campaign in Saints' colours saw Darren net 28 tries from 28 matches as Saints finished the season on top of the league. However, an injury crisis at the wrong end of the season witnessed Saints out of the Grand Final contention following defeatas to Bradford and Leeds. Albert was magnificent throughout the campaign forming an almost telepathic deadly partnership with fellow countryman Jamie Lyon. His career haul of 88 tries in in 124 matches and complete collection of British RL domestic honours brought down the curtain on a great career at Knowsley Road. Darren moved to Cronulla in 2006 to continue his try scoring exploits.