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'There were no decisions to make': Skipper drops retirement bombshell after doctors' grave warnings

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23rd April, 2024
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Cronulla co-captain Dale Finucane has announced his retirement from the NRL after “double-digit concussions” prompted him to call a premature end to his playing career..

The 32-year-old forward fronted the media on Tuesday alongside coach Craig Fitzgibbon to explain why the many head knocks he had suffered over the years led to him pulling the pin on his career even though the dual premiership winner was contracted at the Sharks until the end of 2025.

“Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been going through a process of seeing a neurologist and neuropsychologist around the issues I’ve had with concussion,” Finucane said.

“At the end of the day there was no decisions to make, the medical advice from the two medical experts was that I retire and don’t continue to play.

“I spoke with Clint Newton, President of the RLPA around potential avenues to return to play and potentially go against that advice but at the end of the day it wasn’t able to come to fruition.

“I’m disappointed about the premature end to how it’s finished but I’m excited for the next chapter of my life.”

He missed the end of the 2023 season with a torn bicep and fractured his eye socket earlier this season, restricting him to only three games so far.


“Dale is a revered leader and will always hold a special place in our history as Shark #549. His passion and dedication are the stuff of legend,” CEO Dino Mezzatesta said.

“Whilst no longer playing, he won’t be lost to the Sharks. Dale will take up a role working with the club in various capacities.

“It’s a premature end to a stellar playing career, but we congratulate Dale on his plethora of achievements and wish him, his wife Maddie and children Freddy and Tommy all the very best in their next chapter.”

Finucane has returned to full contact training but was not selected in the Sharks’ side to face North Queensland in round seven.

“My wife Maddie, she’s been at the forefront of wanting to put my health first before anything else,” he added.

“Over the last few concussions that I’ve suffered she’s showed a lot more worry around the frequency I was getting them and potentially how easy I was getting them. 


“She doesn’t like seeing me come off the field for concussions at any time but I think I’d had a number over the last few years and I think the number was getting in the double digits of those non return to play concussions.

“While I’m disappointing about finishing I’m grateful that she was adamant about getting all of this stuff done.

He has played 251 first-grade games, with the Sharks celebrating his 250th appearance in their round-two win over Canterbury in March.

Success followed Finucane, who played in 28 finals matches and had a remarkable overall career win rate of just under 70%.

Finucane played five State of Origin games for NSW and has also represented Canterbury and Melbourne, with whom he won the 2017 and 2020 premierships.

“When Dale’s around, he’s a symbol of success in a lot of ways and a symbol of someone that gets the very best out of themselves every time they turn up,” Fitzgibbon said.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy and Dale Finucane of the Storm pose with the JJ Giltinan Shield.

Storm coach Craig Bellamy and Dale Finucane of the Storm pose with the JJ Giltinan Shield in 2021. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“If we were to channel any sort of energy that Dale’s provided and play with that similar spirit and selflessness in the way that he’s conducted himself in the way that he’s conducted himself over the course of his career and if that can rub off on his footy, that’s a powerful motivator.

“Dale’s signing is one of the most significant signings our club will ever make. Besides just being a great man, I feel like he has just delivered in spades. 

“He’s changed the fabric of the way the boys prepare for a game of footy, the way they carry themselves and I don’t think our club will ever forget his time here.”

The Sharks are well stocked with middle forwards with Braden Hamlin-Uele, Toby Rudolf, Jack Williams, Oregon Kaufusi and Cameron McInnes providing plenty of experience along with younger options like Jesse Colquhoun, Tom Hazelton and Tuku Hau Tapuha.

And they have Warriors star Addin Fonua-Blake heading to the club next season on a four-year deal.


However, Finucane’s departure is still a major blow for the competition leaders as they try to add a second premiership to the club’s trophy cabinet after their 2016 success.

They thrashed the Cowboys last weekend and are red-hot favourites to topple the Raiders in Canberra this Sunday.

with AAP