As a player, you know exactly when it is time to retire, and for Storm forward Jaiman Lowe, that time is now – with the 10-year NRL veteran announcing that he will retire at season’s end.
Lowe, who has played a cameo role at the Storm since joining in 2011, has played well under coach Craig Bellamy – with the Toowoomba junior playing for three NRL clubs in his career, the South Sydney Rabbitohs, the North Queensland Cowboys and the Melbourne Storm.
The decision was not an easy one for Lowe, but he knows that it was the right one for both himself, as well as his family.
“Yeah, it was. It was tough to see Craig, that was probably the most nervous I’ve been, going in to see Craig,” Lowe said.
“I’ve known in my heart for probably the last month to six weeks, and it was just to get it off my chest to tell him, and he was very supportive, and he made sure that it was a decision I was happiest with.”
“At the start of the year, I spent a bit of time in reserve grade when the boys were going so well, and that was when the thoughts started – that maybe it was time to give it up.”
“I wanted to wait and see how I went once I got back into first-grade, and how my form went there, and I felt happy with how that went – but I still felt the same about retirement.”
Retiring is never easy, and for Lowe, given how hard it can be to break the news to your fellow team-mates, he just could not do it – so someone else informed the team-mates of his decision.
“Yeah, it was. I didn’t do it, and chickened out,” Lowe said.
“I saw Frank [Ponissi] after I saw Craig and let him know as well, and he said how do you want to let the boys know, and I said, ‘Oh, you do it, I’ll probably get a bit emotional'”.
For Lowe, he moved into the NRL straight out of high-school in Toowoomba, and the veteran admits that at first, he struggled to adjust to life away from home.
“Yeah, it was. I really struggled when I first went up there from homesickness, but as a professional sportsperson, you have to know where the best opportunity is, and that was probably the best one for me at that stage,” Lowe said.
First-grade is always a big step, and for Lowe, reflecting on when he actually made his first-grade debut 11 years ago, he admits that it was daunting for him.
“Yeah, I probably wasn’t ready looking back. We had a few players that were injury prone at the time, and I was sort of thrown in the deep-end just a little bit – as Graham Murray had only just taken over as coach,” Lowe said.
“I got an opportunity and just really enjoyed it, and when I got told by Muz [Graham Murray], it was the Thursday which was two days away from the game, so I didn’t have time to get nervous, I was just really excited.”
It was never an easy road for Lowe, who at one stage was as bartender/waiter serving beers due to limited opportunities at other clubs, but as he soon found it, there is always someone keen for forwards in the NRL.
“The desire was always there, but there was no opportunity at the club, and we had a look at England but there were no offers there, and the financial crisis and a family, that was not really an option,” Lowe said.
“Ended up moving to Cairns and my wife had a job in teaching up there, so I just ended up playing in the Queensland Cup with the Northern Pride, and after I saw Scott Geddes fracture his leg, I sent a text message to Souths CEO Shane Richardson, saying I was ready. I wasn’t”.
“He rang me the next morning and asked how serious are you, and I thought that this was my chance to get back in the NRL, so I ended up going back to Souths and finishing the year there.”
“I thought that might have been my last big opportunity, but then I got a phone call from Craig, and the rest is history.”
With his time coming to an end, Lowe has the desire to finish the season off on a high, not just for himself, but for the Storm and the teams fans as well.
“I’ve been there before, where you have to fight tooth and nail just to keep your spot at a club – and when I knew in my heart that this was going to be it, I put all my eggs in one basket, and I’m enjoying training for the first time in my whole career.”
“But the last few weeks, I’ve just really taken everything in.”
“I’m going to head up to Central Queensland, and it was an option that came up, and there is an opportunity to go into the mines, and I’ll play a bit of local footy with the team up there.”