Every season marks the end of the road for some NRL players, many of them legends of the game, while others are battlers who fought their way into the top grade.
Retirement is never an easy decision, as not every player gets a fairy tale ending, and many don’t get to choose when or how they retire.
Here’s a brief rundown on the NRL and former NRL players who have retired from the big time this year.
Daniel Alvaro – He was a good honest toiler, a depth player really, who played 129 games in the top grade both here and in the Super League, either in the front row or off the bench. A career highlight for Alvaro was his three games for Italy in the 2017 RLWC.
Aaron Booth – He only played 10 games in the top grade but that’s 10 more than the rest of us. He’ll now be concentrating on his off-field activities in administration and coaching with the Titans.
Lachlan Coote – The fullback has had a magnificent 16-year career both in Australia and in the ESL, winning a premiership with the Cowboys back in 2015, and three consecutive Super League titles and a Challenge Cup with St Helens. He even represented both Scotland and Great Britain during his career. Not bad for a lad from Windsor.
Jarrod Croker – 15 seasons, 307 games, 2374 points, and all for the one club. Croker will be remembered as one of Canberra’s finest and leaves the game holding both the club’s try scoring and point scoring records.
Andrew Davey – A late bloomer, Davey made the best of his opportunities and was a wholehearted performer who might have had a much bigger career in another era. Played 44 games in the top grade and wisely gave the game away after repeated head knocks.
Wade Graham – After beginning life as a Panther way back in 2008, he has been the heart and soul of the Sharks since joining them in 2011. After nearly 300 first grade games, a premiership with the sharks in 2016, and appearances for both NSW and Australia, Graham has been one of the NRL’s best performers during his career.
Josh Hodgson – He was a rising star when he left Hull KR for the bright lights of Canberra in 2015 and soon established himself as one of the toughest and smartest dummy halves in the game, and he was influential in the Raiders making the grand-final for the first time in 25 years in 2019. While his final season in the game with Parramatta in 2023 was forgettable, Hodgson will be remembered as one of the best English imports to play in the NRL.
Shaun Kenny-Dowall – The big Kiwi outside back just finished his 17th season in the big time, playing just under 400 career games. An incredible effort. He won a premiership with the Roosters in 2013 and was a regular selection for NZ, being part of their victorious Four Nations Championship team in 2010.
Tevita Pangai jnr – TPJ is one of the more enigmatic players the game has seen in recent times and could have been one of the best but for an apparent lack of commitment and a series of brain fades both on and off the field. He’s now off to become world boxing champion.
Mitchell Pearce – Players don’t come more polarising than Mitchell Pearce, and the expectations that came with being both a young prodigy and the son of the great Wayne Pearce certainly didn’t help his cause. Putting his State of Origin shortcomings aside though, Pearce had an excellent career, with 350 games in the top grade and a premiership with the Roosters in 2013. He can now put his feet up and buy a dog.
Mitch Rein – He was never the star, but always a tenacious little hooker. He was one of those great club men that every team needs. He played over 200 games in his 12-year career since making his first-grade debut for the Dragons in 2011.
Josh Reynolds – He was a player frequently in the headlines, often for the wrong reasons, and while not everyone appreciated his on-field intensity, they certainly loved him at Canterbury. He should never have left the Dogs back in 2018 to chase the dollars at the Tigers.
Korbin Sims – He is probably the least famous of the Sims family but he still managed to have a long, if patchy, career in first grade, playing over 170 games in his 10 years at the top, as well as representing Fiji in three World Cups.
Brad Takairangi – A very useful player, and his size and mobility saw him play centre, 5/8 or in the back row with equal success. He played over 200 first grade games and also represented both NZ and the Cook Islands.
James Tamou – The prop was a gentle giant on the field but effective nevertheless, playing over 300 first grade games and being an important part of the Cowboys maiden premiership in 2015. He also played many games for both NSW and Australia, which is quite an achievement for a young fellow born and bred in the land of the long white cloud.
Brayden Williame – The centre certainly had the ability, but he never really cemented his place in the top grade, and even became so desperate in 2022 that he played a season of rugby. His career highlights were representing Fiji on 9 occasions and being part of the Catalans team that won the Challenge Cup in 2018.