When injury cruelly ends a career, you feel for the player involved and in this case, he thought long and hard about the decision and knew that it was the only decision to make.
The player in question is Dan Hunt, who after 150 first-grades games – all of which came with the St George Illawarra Dragons – made the call to close the curtain on his career due to a chronic left knee injury.
The injury was sustained in this years’ NRL Auckland Nines competition and Hunt, no matter how hard he tried and the effort he put in, could not get his knee to the level it had to be.
â€œIt is no secret that I have been struggling with injuries throughout my career and unfortunately the injury sustained in pre-season has been career-ending,â€ said Hunt.
â€œIt has come to the point where my left knee cannot withstand the strain that comes with playing first-grade on a regular basis.”
Consulting with numerous medical professionals and independent surgeons, Hunt desperately sought a way to return to the field and play rugby league.
It was not to be and the 28-year old was forced to retire.
â€œIt is not a decision or day that any rugby league player looks forward too and it has been a difficult time and decision, but after several extensive discussions with both the Clubâ€™s Medical Staff as well as various other independent surgeons, this decision is the right one to make for my long-term well-being,” said Hunt.
A local junior with the Dapto Canaries, Hunt’s debut came in 2007, with a premiership coming in 2010 and a World Club Challenge in 2011.
He is grateful for the opportunities he has received in rugby league and winning the premiership remains his career highlight.
â€œI am very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent my childhood Club as many times as I have and it feels like only yesterday I put on the jersey for the first time,â€ said Hunt.
â€œI arrived here at an early age and had the opportunity to come through the Clubâ€™s junior ranks prior to making my debut and cherished every opportunity to wear the Red V when my chance came.
â€œWinning the Premiership will always be amongst the many highlights of my career and that period of playing rugby league in general is probably my best time playing rugby league overall.
â€œTo be involved in something like that was very special and coupled with the chance of competing months later in the World Club Challenge and playing several representative games are memories that I will never forget.â€
Life after football is not all bleak for Hunt, though, with the 28-year old completing his Level 4 Certificates in Social Welfare and Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health at TAFE Illawarra.
In terms of roles with the Dragons, he moves into an ambassador role with the club within their Dragons Education department and also becomes an NRL State of Mind Ambassador.
â€œAt the Dragons it has always been instilled upon players from an early age that we need to have a focus on life and a career away from rugby league,â€ said Hunt.
â€œI am very fortunate to have had the support and guidance of both the Club and NRL to have undertaken study over recent years to help with this moment.
â€œAs an NRL player there is so much influence you can have on the younger generation and I look forward to pursuing this chapter of my life to give back to the community and rugby league.â€
The club were quick to praise Hunt for his efforts to the club via comments from CEO Peter Doust.
â€œDan has been a proud one-club man, a local junior who has represented the Dragons at the highest level for almost a decade and it is unfortunate that his career provided many injury challenges including one that would ultimately force his retirement,â€ said Doust.
â€œDan is to be respected for his contributions to the Dragons both on and off the field and for the way that he has positively faced his challenges over the years.
â€œDan’s commitment to his studies and passion for helping others will ensure that he makes a positive difference to the lives of the youth that he is committed to helping.