Veteran flanker Wendell Sailor has today hung up his boots – retiring from the Dragons and his sporting career, thanking his NRL club St George Illawarra allowing him to earn “redemption”.
Sailor, 35, while hinting he could have gone round another year – felt it was a good time to bring down the curtain.
With regular work in the media during his career, the life after football for the popular icon will almost certainly start with a Channel 9 or potentially Foxtel in League coverage.
Sailor bounced back into League circles in May last year after serving a 2 year ban from recreational drug use. Previously playing Union, Wendell was grateful at the opportunity the NRL offered him after his horror exit from the rival code.
The return of Wendell Sailor to Rugby League saw a major about face from several League stars that were recruited to Union in a high profile raid several years ago. The likes of Rogers,Â Sailor, Tahu and now Tiquiri who have all returned to their roots after unhappy stints in the 15 man game.
“I think everyone realises I went through a tough couple of years there. The Dragons were great, giving me a (career) lifeline,” said Sailor, who played 33 games for the club, taking his first grade tally to 222 matches since debuting for Brisbane Broncos 16 years ago.
“A 33-year-old has-been at the time. A lot of people wrote me off and, me being me, I was pretty confident I could come back and finish on the right note and I think I have.
“Redemption happened for me on and off the field.
“I just love the game, I love what it has given me throughout my career.
“I have got to see the world – a skinny little dark kid from Sarina at the age of 17.”
Big Dell said he had made his mind up several weeks ago after much thought, that he was going to walk away from League for good.
“I knew that I could probably go another year but I just think that the timing was right,” he said.
“We have got some great young (winger) talent at the Dragons in (Jason) Nightingale and (Brett) Morris.
“Personally for me I’m content and I’m happy and I’m just happy with the way people responded to me.”
Dragons coach Wayne Bennett, who was in charge for most of Sailor’s career with Brisbane and St George Illawarra, said the winger’s retirement timing was “impeccable” and he would be remembered for his “charisma, professionalism and playing ability”.
Sailor will play one final match provided he is voted onto the Indigenous team scheduled to play the NRL All Stars at Skilled Park on the Gold Coast on February 13.