He was not necessarily regarded as the favourite player of some Cowboys fans, but his commitment and effort cannot be faulted over the years – as Cowboys hooker Aaron Payne has announced his retirement, at the end of the year.
Making his debut for the Cowboys midway through the 2002 NRL season, Payne is currently second on the Cowboys list for most games played for the club – with the veteran to take up a junior development role at the club next year.
For Payne, who has played in 213 NRL games to date for the Cowboys, trailing Matt Bowen on the Cowboys most games played list, he felt that it was the right time to step aside.
â€œI just felt the time was right to retire,â€ Payne said today.
â€œIâ€™m not getting any younger and the bodyâ€™s not what it used to be.
â€œIâ€™m looking forward to staying involved with the club at a development level and having some weekends with my young family.â€
Payne has never won a premiership, but he does have some accolades to his name – winning the Cowboys Player of the Year Award in 2006 and 2008, the Clubman of the Year in 2008, as well as being selected in the NRL All-Stars squad, at the start of the 2012 NRL season.
Cowboys General Manager of Football Peter Parr, said that the Cowboys are grateful for the 11 years of service that Payne has given the club.
â€œAaron has been a wonderful player for the Cowboys over the past 11 seasons,â€ Cowboys General Manager â€“ Football Peter Parr said.
â€œHe will always be thought of as one of our finest players and what makes his career even more special is that heâ€™s a Townsville boy who was a one-team man with his local club here in North Queensland.
â€œIt is a huge feat to play the number of matches he has at the highest level of club football and heâ€™s done it in one of the toughest positions on the field.â€