After 14 years at the top level, Wests Tigers veteran utility Dene Halatau has made the decision to retire from the game at the completion of the current season.
Making his debut in 2003, he played his junior footy for the Merrylands Rams and the North Ryde Hawks, before progressing to the Balmain Tigers SG Ball side.
With a total of 241 games played across two NRL clubs – the Tigers and the Canterbury Bulldogs – Halatau has a premiership to his name as a member of the Wests Tigers side that won the 2005 NRL premiership.
The Kiwi international knew the decision was not an easy one to make, but that it was the right one to make.
â€œAnnouncing my retirement is obviously a big thing for me as itâ€™s a transition into the next part of my life,â€ Halatau said.
â€œI felt as though the time is right and itâ€™s something that Iâ€™ve been thinking about for a long time now.
â€œI was grateful to the Club, JT (Jason Taylor) and the coaching staff for giving me this year; I still feel as though Iâ€™m playing good enough football to on tribute well for the team.
â€œIâ€™ve had a few little injuries over the past season that have just been quite frustrating more than anything and while Iâ€™m still feeling okay I think itâ€™s the right time to hang the boots up.”
With a chance still to play finals, Halatau wants to keep working hard and playing well alongside his team-mates to help them achieve that in his final year.
â€œIâ€™m making the announcement now about retirement but itâ€™s definitely not putting a full stop on the season, and I donâ€™t think for the team either as we are building something really good here,” added Halatau.
â€œEveryone is on the same page and we are working well together, thereâ€™s genuine excitement among the group and our boys are figuring out how to make the top eight.
â€œIt would be great to finish my career on that note, getting to the finals and showing what this team is actually capable of.â€
Halatau drew glowing praise from club CEO Justin Pascoe for his on-field and off-field endeavours.
â€œDene has made an enormous contribution to Wests Tigers during his first grade career,â€ Pascoe said.
â€œNot only on the field has excelled, but off the field with his commitment to our community programs and his work as an NRL State of Mind ambassador.
â€œHe has been an excellent leader at this Club, coming on board as one of our vice-captains with Chris Lawrence.
â€œOn behalf of everyone at the Club I would like to thank Dene for his efforts and achievement during his NRL career,â€ he said.
Also praising him was coach Jason Taylor for his professionalism and leadership.
â€œDene has been an absolute pleasure to coach,â€ Taylor said.
“He is the ultimate professional, leads by example in every way that you possibly can as a rugby league player.
â€œHe has great advice and sets a great example for every player at Wests Tigers, not just the young ones but the older guys also look to him for leadership and he will be sorely missed at the Club.”