Following the two incredibly exciting AFL and NRL grand finals a few weekends ago, a number of high-profile players had, during the course of the year, chosen to hang up the boots.
We take a look, in chronological order of retirement announcement, at some of the respective codes’ most illustrious retirees from season 2016. Last week, we ran a post on the AFL; this week it’s the turn of the NRL.
Jamie Lyon (Parramatta Eels / St Helens / Manly Sea Eagles)
Originally from Narrabri in Country NSW, the goal-kicking centre played his first NRL game for the Eels in 2000. After 70 games, he stunned everyone by announcing his retirement to return home. 5 months later, he signed for English Super League club St Helens, where he stayed for 2 seasons, winning the 2006 Grand Final and Challenge Cup. Lyon returned to the NRL with Manly, winning the 2008 and 2011 Premierships. As an individual, he was a superstar: he was named the RLIF Centre of the Year (2011, 2013), Dally M Centre of the Year (2010, 2011, 2013, 2014) and Dally M Captain of the Year (2012, 2014). He also represented the Blues in the State of Origin 10 times and the Kangaroos in 8 Tests.
Anthony Watmough (Northern Eagles, Manly Sea Eagles / Parramatta Eels)
Age: 33 | NRL Games: 303 | NRL Points: 292 | Date retired: May 5th
Watmough debuted for the Northern Eagles in 2002 as a second-rower, having grown up in Auburn, Sydney. When the club folded in 2003, he assumed a place at Manly, playing with the Sea Eagles for 12 seasons, winning a Premiership in 2008 and 2011. He signed with the Eels in 2015, but announced his retirement this year due to chronic injuries. Watmough made his Test debut in 2008, playing 16 times for the Kangaroos, while he has also been a State of Origin player for NSW 14 times. He was also named as the Dally M Second Rower of the year in both 2007 and 2009.
Jeremy Smith (Melbourne Storm / St George Illawarra Dragons / Cronulla Sharks / Newcastle Knights)
The New Zealand lock was born in Christchurch and played his junior football in Melbourne and Queensland. He made his NRL debut for the Storm in 2004, and won the Premiership with them in 2007. Unfortunately, the title was stripped off the team, but he put that behind him when, in 2008, Smith won the League World Cup and the NZ Rugby League Player of the Year. He moved the the Dragons in 2009, winning a Premiership the following year, and then switched to the Sharks in 2011. He concluded his career at the Knights, having also been capped 22 times for the Kiwis.
Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos)
Parker is one of the few one-club players in the modern era. The versatile and durable goal-kicking forward made his NRL debut in 2001 with the Broncos, scoring a try in his first match. He was a key member of the Brisbane team that won the Premiership in 2006. Parker, who has captained the Broncos as well, also represented Queensland in the State of Origin on 19 occasions, so his blood is maroon. He represented the Kangaroos in 13 Tests and won the Rugby League World Cup with them in 2013. In the same year, he was named the RLIF and Dally M Lock of the Year. He retired as the 4th most-capped NRL player of all time.
Nathan Friend (Brisbane Broncos / Melbourne Storm / NZ Warriors / Gold Coast Titans)
Hailing from Toowoomba in Queensland, the diminutive hooker made his debut for the Broncos in 2002 and then spent 4 seasons with the Storm. He moved to the Gold Coast in 2007 and notched up 100 caps for the Titans in 5 seasons, including scoring his first NRL try in 2008. Friend crossed the ditch in 2012 and played for the Warriors in Auckland 86 times, before returning to the Titans this year to close out his career. Friend is a bricklayer by trade and has continued to work through most of his NRL career.
Dene Halatau (Wests Tigers / Canterbury Bulldogs)
The utility player from Invercargill in New Zealand moved across the Tasman when he was 4 years old, playing his junior footy in Sydney. Halatau debuted for the Tigers in 2003, winning the Premiership with them 2 years later. After 128 games in Western Sydney, he moved to the Bulldogs in 2010 as a Rugby League World Cup winner in 2008. Halatau was capped 15 times by the Kiwis between 2004 and 2009. A return to the Tigers happened in 2014, where he picked up another 52 games before his retirement. He was announced the other day as the Wests Tigers’ Cultural and Leadership Coordinator.
Michael Ennis (Newcastle Knights / St George Illawarra Dragons / Brisbane Broncos / Canterbury Bulldogs / Cronulla Sharks)
Instagram: @michaelennisfanpage (fan page)
Age: 32 | NRL Games: 273 | NRL Points: 369 | Date retired: July 25th
Ennis played hooker for 5 separate clubs. He debuted in the NRL in 2003 for the Knights and played 20 times for them before moving south to the Dragons for the 2005 season. A 3-year stint in Brisbane followed, after which he landed up at the Bulldogs in 2009. He made his State of Origin debut for the Blues that same year, ultimately running out 8 times for them. After 136 caps in Canterbury, he moved to Cronulla last year, with his 51st and final match for the Sharks being a Grand Final victory this year for his first and only Premiership medal.
Sam Perrett (Sydney Roosters / Canterbury Bulldogs)
Perrett, who grew up in Auckland, moved to Australia when he was 13 years of age. He was selected to play for the Australian Schoolboys team in 2003, thereafter making his NRL debut for the Roosters in 2004. He made his test debut for the Kiwis in 2007 and won the Rugby League World Cup the following year, ultimately winning 19 Test caps. In 2012, the utility back switched to the Bulldogs and at the time of his retirement, is one of a very exclusive list of players who played 100 matches each for more than one club. He is the Wholesale Director of Kaffein, which is an online leather products and accessories retailer.
Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra Dragons)
Age: 31 | NRL Games: 270 | NRL Points: 216 | Date retired: August 17th
Another one-club player, Creagh was born and raised in Blacktown in the western suburbs of Sydney. He attended school in Wollongong, making his NRL debut for the Dragons as an 18-year old in 2003. The utility forward was capped by Australia 2 years later, but only won his 2nd cap in 2011. He also played in 11 State of Origin games for NSW between 2009 and 2012, but was sin-binned in Game III of 2009. The following year he was part of the Premiership-winning Dragons team and was named club captain in 2013. His retirement due to an ongoing knee injury left him as the second most-capped St George player ever. Creagh is a commerce graduate from the University of Wollongong and the co-founder of the Graduates of League program.
Kade Snowden (Newcastle Knights / Cronulla Sharks)
Age: 29 | NRL Games: 174 | NRL Points: 36 | Date retired: August 26th
Snowden had the rare distinction of having represented two countries in Rugby League, namely Australia (1 Test in 2011) and Italy (2 Tests in the 2013 World Cup). The prop from Belmont, NSW, joined the Newcastle Knights as a 15-year old in 2002, eventually debuting in the NRL in 2005. He switched teams to the Sharks 2 years later, and after representing them 82 times, including 2 State of Origin games, he returned to Newcastle to see out his career. The curtain finally came down on Snowden’s playing days this year due to a persistent neck injury.
Other notable mentions:
- Jack Reed (Brisbane Broncos)
- James McManus (Newcastle Knights)
- Dylan Farrell (South Sydney Rabbitohs, St George Illawarra Dragons)
- Tim Moltzen (Wests Tigers)