Retirement is inevitable for players and they know when it is time to step down and for South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower Michael Crocker, that time is now, with the NRL veteran calling time on his career.
In a career that has been littered with both club and representative achievements, it was back in 2001 when Crocker made his debut for the Sydney Roosters.
Over the course of his career, Crocker enjoyed stints with the Sydney Roosters, the Melbourne Storm and the Rabbitohs and has played in 204 total games winning grand finals and representing both Queensland and Australia.
With six Australian games to his name and 15 State of Origin’s, it has been a career to remember for Crocker, who wanted to return to the playing field at some point but knew that it just was not possible on the back of his most recent injury.
â€œAfter undergoing surgery in April, my focus has been to get back on the field. My goal was to captain South Sydney to a grand final win and to play again next season,â€ Crocker said.
â€œIt has been a challenging year and I have explored every possible option to get myself back playing. Unfortunately, I have arrived at the point where my knee is unable to meet the demands of professional football. Sadly, this means I will be unable to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the remainder of this season.
Crocker enjoyed his time as an NRL player and had many people to thank including fans, family and the clubs he played for.
â€œI would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved in my Rugby League career. From my parents who allowed me to play the game I loved as a kid, to the Members, fans, corporates, coaching staff, medical staff and support staff; I thank you,” said Crocker.
â€œTo every player I have played alongside and against over the past 29 years; it has been a privilege and I sincerely thank you.
â€œFinally, I would like to thank my beautiful wife Sally for having the biggest influence on my life, on and off the field. Thank you for your guidance, patience and support. You have encouraged me to become the best person and player I could possibly be.
â€œIt has been an incredible 13 years playing in the NRL and my career has been blessed. I am honoured to have played for my state and country and I am privileged to have experienced grand final success at both the Roosters and Melbourne Storm.
â€œI have played at three fantastic clubs, coached by arguably some of the best coaches of all time. I have enjoyed every success that football has to offer and most importantly I have made lifelong friends along the way.
â€œMy wife and I are excited about the next chapter of our lives and no matter the path I choose to pursue, I will always remain involved in the football community.â€
Although he has not played as much footy this year as the club may have wanted him to, coach Michael Maguire is well aware of the impact Crocker has had on the team and culture during his time at the club.
â€œFrom the time of my arrival, â€˜Crockâ€™ has been a major part of the cultural change that has occurred here at the Rabbitohs,” said Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire.
â€œThrough his experience, his dedication and his will to find ways to improve his game at the back end of his career, itâ€™s a real credit to him as a person to have seen the effort he has put in over the past two seasons here.
â€œHe has definitely left his mark as a player and as a person on our squad, and I wish him all the best in his next chapter.
â€œIf he dedicates himself to his next path in the same manner he has as a Rugby League player, Iâ€™m sure he will be very successful in whichever field he chooses.â€