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'What a career': Inglis announces retirement from NRL

The Age logo The Age 15/04/2019 Adam Pengilly

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Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett has described Greg Inglis as "one of the great players in the history of our game" after the South Sydney and Queensland captain Greg Inglis announced his retirement, only a month into the new NRL season.

The 32-year-old fronted a press conference at Redfern to confirm he will hang up the boots immediately after a stellar 15-year career in which he has achieved just about every honour in the game.

Speculation had swirled the two-time Dally M medallist was on the verge of quitting the game in recent weeks as he struggled with persistent injury, a decision he formalised in front a of a huge media throng on Monday.

Super coach Bennett led the tributes to Inglis, who was in a relaxed and jovial mood as he addressed his family, teammates and the media.

"What a career," Inglis said. "It’s unfortunate it’s come to an end. It’s been an incredible journey. I’m happy with my decision. My journey is only starting now."

Inglis has been battling arthritis in a shoulder and persistent knee injuries and has been open about his mental health battle in recent years.

a man wearing sunglasses posing for the camera: Retirement: Greg Inglis arrives at Redfern on Monday. © AAP Retirement: Greg Inglis arrives at Redfern on Monday. He told Bennett and Rabbitohs general manager of football Shane Richardson last Monday of his intention to retire despite his contract running through to the end of the 2020 season, which he had earlier said would be his last year.

Bennett and Richardson told Inglis to spend a week with family to ensure he was making the right decision and he travelled to visit relatives on the mid-NSW north coast and his children in Queensland.

He told teammates he would quit after South Sydney's stirring comeback win over the Warriors on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday.

"It’s the hardest part of a footballer’s life ... to get to that point where you know your time’s up, when you don’t have the passion you need for it," Bennett said. "Sometimes we play a year too long or stay a year too long. In Greg’s case that’s not going to happen.

"I can tell you one of the things that attracted me about coming here was [the chance to work with GI]. I think I’d only ever met him once for about one minute and I wanted to be a part of his career, even if it was towards the end of it.

"He’s got a presence, you can’t say that about all players. But he has that presence.

"He’s one of the great players of his generation, but also one of the great players in the history of our game. Whenever the great players are going to be mentioned he’s always going to be there."

Inglis featured in the Rabbitohs' opening two wins against the Roosters and Dragons this season, but has missed the club's last three matches.

He spoke to Australian coach Mal Meninga and Queensland mentor Kevin Walters before Monday's announcement.

The Rabbitohs have drafted a detailed job description for Inglis after his playing career which will include working as a development coach and Indigenous player mentor. He will also step up his involvement with the Rabbitohs' charity arm, Souths Cares.

"As I’ve said from the beginning, this is not a sad day," Richardson said. "It’s a day where one of the greats of the game gets heavily involved with the club he loves for the future of himself, and more importantly the club.

"Greg’s got the opportunity in the next 20 years to be one of the great indigenous leaders in this country – and one of the great NRL operators in the country."

He finishes his career with 263 NRL games for both the Storm and Rabbitohs as well as 39 appearances for Australia.

He made 32 appearances for Queensland in the State of Origin arena, captaining the side for the first time last year after Cameron Smith's representative retirement.

Walters will be forced to find another Maroons skipper, with Daly Cherry-Evans and Michael Morgan to top a list of candidates the Queensland Rugby League will sift through.

"Greg's decision today may end his time on the field but it will certainly not finish the important work he will be able to achieve in the game," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"While obviously we will remember some of his incredible achievements on the field, it is clear Greg will have a lasting impact off the field. His work as an Indigenous mentor and his status as an ambassador for the game and a role model will continue.

"He should be enormously proud of his achievements."

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