Retirement comes at some point for all players and to be able to do it on your own terms, although hard, is the way to go and that is the decision that Parramatta Eels back-rower Ben Smith has made.
The 29-year old has opted to retire at season’s end and will not play in the NRL or overseas.
It was back in 2004 when Smith made his debut as a centre for the Eels before moving to the back-row and for the one-club man, he was proud to have played 150 games and was thankful that the Eels gave him an opportunity.
“It’s taken me a while to get there but better late than never, they say,” Smith said.
“I’m very proud to get here. The thing I’m most proud of is I played all my football at Parramatta. I’m proud to say I was at Parramatta from start to finish. I’m happy and very grateful for the opportunity the club’s given me over many years.
“I’ll be retiring at the end of this year so to start and finish at Parramatta â€“ I’m very grateful.”
Smith, who endured some tough years both through injury and with wooden spoons, says he prefers not to reflect on those turbulent years. Rather, he wants to focus on the good years at the club.
“Just to play first grade NRL is a massive achievement but I’m proud to say so many years later that we had some quality teams and good opportunities.”
Smith is just grateful he has come back stronger and fitter from past injuries and is honoured to have another chance to play.
“We had a couple of rough years but this year there’s a good feeling,” Smith added.
“Over the years I’ve had a fair few injuries that have kept me on the sidelines, I’ve probably played 20 games over the past three years so that’s been very frustrating for me personally. So to come out and be playing football when the team’s going well, I feel fortunate just to be a part of it.”