The Class of 2019
Another exciting and action packed domestic season is now in the books and with that it will unfortunately be the last we see of a select group of players all of whom have their own mark on the sport of rugby league.
So, in tribute, we take a look at some of the most notable players from both the NRL and Super League who called time on their retrospective career.
The Queensland legend was one of the game’s most formidable forces in the mid to late 2000s and established himself as one of the most versatile and big game talents.
With his sheer size and strength as well as his explosive and creative flair, he was a force to be reckoned with.
The former Melbourne and South Sydney figurehead’s displays at club, state and international will go down as one of the most noteworthy in NRL and rugby league history.
Over the course of the NRL era, there are not many more accomplished than the dynamic halfback.
Over the course of his career, Cronk may not have been the biggest try scorer or goal kicker but he more than made up for it with his organisational ability, in game kicking, slick passing, rugby league IQ and savvy.
For many, he is one of the best to ever play the game and when you look at his extensive CV, it is easy to see why.
Four NRL titles, two Dally M Player of the Year medals, five Dally M halfback of the years and one Golden Boot award.
The former Cronulla Shark undoubtedly developed a reputation as one of the NRL’s best enforcers at the prop forward spot.
The 38-year-old spent his entire 19-year-career with the Sharks and holds the record for most seasons played in Australian rugby league history.
After making his debut in 2001, Gallen went on to make 349 appearances while scoring 63 tries in the process.
An NRL crown had eluded Gallen for the most part of his career but that all changed in 2016 when Gallen broke the curse after leading his side to victory over Melbourne in the Grand Final.
The Super League legend’s career came to a close at the end of this season after a one year stint with Hull KR but even to the very end, the 8-time Super League winner looked as creative and dominant as ever.
Between 2004 and 2019, McGuire developed a reputation as a dynamic and prolific scrum half.
An integral part of a Leeds Rhinos side that utterly dominated Super League throughout the 2000s and 2010s.
Altogether, McGuire stands as one of the league’s best ever and most memorable of faces.
By the end of the 2019 season, he finished with over 450 domestic appearances throughout his career as well scoring 276 tries in all competitions.
He still remains the only player to have scored 200 or more in Super League itself.
Similar to Gallen, Matt Scott secured his status as one of Australia’s top enforcers and was a one club player throughout his entire career.
In 16 seasons between 2004 and 2019, the bulldozing prop forward was a leader in North Queensland’s forward pack.
He won Dally M Prop of the Year and Captain of the Year in 2011 and 2015 retrospectively.
The former Maroons man had to wait until 2015 when he eventually claimed the big one, when his Cowboys side overcame Brisbane in a thrilling contest.
Jamie Jones Buchanan
The Leeds man remained one of the last key figureheads of Leeds’ golden decade up until his retirement at the end of this season.
In the process, he left behind memories that will not be forgotten anytime soon by the Leeds faithful.
The 38-year-old spent an outstanding 20-years at the West Yorkshire club as a one club man and played a huge part in Leeds’ rise to dominance between 2004 and 2017.
In two decades of rugby league, Jones Buchanan became one of the sports most accomplished and hard working talents.
After more than 300 games and 70 tries, the 35-year-old decided to hang up his boots at the end of the 2019 season.
The former Australia and Lebanon international was a member of the 2005 Wests Tigers side that claimed NRL glory over North Queensland.
Although it was to be his only NRL title, Farah has consistently shown his worth, proving to be an invaluable member of the Tigers and South Sydney.
The 38-year-old spent 18 seasons with Warrington Wolves, making 444 appearances and scoring 128 tries in the process for the Primrose and Blue.
He was a winning member of three Challenge Cup wins in 2009, 2010 and 2012.
Although a Super League crown would elude him throughout his long and storied career, ‘Super Ben’ firmly established himself as a force in the back row for both club and country.
His hard work, sheer aggressiveness and intensity was on show on numerous occasions.
The younger Minichello brother was undoubtedly a largely consistent player in his 18 years in rugby league, playing in both the NRL and the Super League.
The former Italian international spent 13 seasons in the NRL turning out for Sydney, South Sydney and Gold Coast with whom he spent the better part of his career with before making the move to Hull FC in 2015.
There is no question that Minichello was one best forwards to put on the black and white jersey.
He was an astute performer in the Airlie Birds’ Challenge Cups wins in 2016 and 2017.
By the end of his career, he made 396 appearances and scored 70 tries whilst also featuring for Italy in two Rugby League World Cups.
The 32-year-old made the decision to step away from rugby league at the end of this season after an accomplished and successful career at both international and club level.
Between 2007 and 2012, he featured as part of a dominant Melbourne side that went on to claim the NRL title in 2012 before moving onto Penrith Panthers in 2013 and eventually seeing his career out with Hull FC.
The former New Zealand and Tongan international was another member of Hull’s back to back Challenge Cup wins.
He seemingly formed a formidable forward pack alongside the likes of Minichello, Liam Watts and Scott Taylor.
The success would not stop at club level either, as Manu was a member of the Kiwis 2008 Rugby League World Cup winning squad as well.
Another one club man as the 34-year-old played all his 16 seasons in rugby league with South Sydney.
Throughout his career, he featured in a variety of different positions playing in the back row as well as on the backline for the Bunnies, showing a fine level of adaptability.
He ended his career as the most capped player in Rabbitohs history with 337 appearances and scored 61 tries.
He captained his side to NRL glory in 2014 with a dominating win over Canterbury in the Grand Final.
A name that may not be too familiar with NRL fans, however Ablett was a part of Leeds rise to prominence throughout the mid 2000s and into the 2010s.
Between 2007 and 2017, the 33-year-old was a part of seven Super League winning teams for the Rhinos alongside two Challenge Cup victories.
In his 16 seasons for the Rhinos, he made over 300 appearances while scoring 77 tries.
A journeyman of NRL rugby as between 2006 and 2019, Gordon took his trade to the likes of Penrith, Cronulla, Parramatta, Sydney before ending his career with Gold Coast at the end of this season.
The goal kicking fullback may not have been able to break into the NSW or Australia team but his consistency off the tee and in attack was second to none.
So much so, that he sits as the 13th highest points scorer in Australian first grade history with 1,730.