All players know they have to retire at some point. Whether it is forced upon them due to injury or whether they know their body has had enough, every player faces that decision at some point in their career.
The latest player to make that tough decision? New Zealand Warriors veteran centre Jerome Ropati.
Still only 29, the last four seasons have been injury plagued for the fan favourite, with his last game coming on March 29 where he suffered a broken jaw.
With all the injuries he has unfortunately suffered, he has only been able to play in 18 games over the last three and a half years.
To those who fear he may be lost to the game, they have no need to worry, with the veteran to remain with the Warriors club in an ambassador role for 2014 with the view to securing him in a long-term role.
â€œItâ€™s the right time for me to look ahead, to consider my family and my post-playing career,â€ said New Zealand Warriors centre, Jerome Ropati.
â€œIt hasnâ€™t been an easy decision to reach because this isnâ€™t the way I wanted to finish. I love playing this game and I love playing for the Vodafone Warriors.
â€œIâ€™m still young enough to carry on but the reality is my body is telling me itâ€™s time to move on. I couldnâ€™t tell you how many injuries Iâ€™ve had but Iâ€™ve had 15 operations.”
With great memories forever etched in his memory and great friends along the way, many of whom currently in the Warriors line-up, Ropati thanked all those who have been involved in his rugby league career.
â€œIâ€™ve got so many great memories of my time as a player for both the Vodafone Warriors and the Kiwis. Iâ€™ve also got so many mates at this club, a place which has been such a huge part of my life,” said Ropati.
â€œI want to thank all the team-mates Iâ€™ve had through the years, all the coaches, staff and members with a special thanks to the medical staff who have helped me get through my injuries.â€
With an opportunity to prolong his rugby league career by remaining involved with the game in an off-field capacity, it is something the veteran relishes.
â€œI always enjoy my involvement in the community including programmes like the League in Libraries initiative we run in schools with Konica Minolta,â€ he said.
â€œI also like working with our sponsors and meeting members and fans. Iâ€™m looking forward to being more heavily involved in areas like that for the rest of the season and also doing all I can to support our NRL, NYC and New South Wales Cup players and coaches.â€
The club as a whole are disappointed that Ropati was forced into early retirement but they have great respect and admiration for him and know he has a lot to offer the club in off-field duties.
â€œJerome has been a terrific player for the Vodafone Warriors and has showed so much courage and dedication in the way he has come back from his injuries,â€ said Warriors Chief Executive, Wayne Scurrah.
â€œAbove all heâ€™s an exceptional person. We all have the greatest admiration for him and thank him for the huge contribution he has made both on and off the field during his playing career.
â€œHe has always been a fantastic ambassador for the club through the work he has done in the community and the way he has conducted himself. Heâ€™s has so much to offer the game off the field.â€