Luke Burt

It was coming for a while, but the man himself has finally confirmed it – with Eels legend and 250-gamer Luke Burt, today announcing his retirement from the NRL as a player.

Whilst Burty may not be a player anymore however, he will take up a role on the Eels staff from next year and beyond – with the 31-year old to work with the Eels Player Welfare and Education Unit.

Having played at the top level for 14 years now, Burt is proud to continue his involvement with the Eels club – with Burt to retire as the Eels all-time leading try-scorer.

“I’ve loved every minute playing for Parramatta and being part of this great Club, and I made the decision some time ago that this would be my last year,” Burt said.

“Joining the full-time staff next year will be a new challenge for me and it’s one I’m excited about.

“Helping the younger blokes coming through is something I’ve always enjoyed as a player, so to be concentrating on their education and welfare full-time is a great opportunity for me.

“I really believe the Club is heading in the right direction – we’ve got the players, coaches and staff we need and I’m just happy to be able to contribute to that. “

It was back in 1999 in Newcastle that saw Luke Burt make his debut, with the 17-year old looking more like a young, blonde surfie type dude, than he did a rugby league player.

Since that time, he has amassed more than 250 games for the Eels, and has become one of the team’s most revered players both on and off the field, as well as with other teams fans – with Burt paying special mentions to his family, friends, all Eels supporters and wife, Madelin.

“My family and extended family have always been a huge support throughout my career, as have plenty of my mates outside of football,” Burt said.

“I wouldn’t be here if my mum (Kerrie) and dad (Dave) didn’t spend hours each week driving me from Newcastle to Parra three times a week after they finished work so I could train and play in the juniors.

“Their driving didn’t stop there… they’ve continued driving up and down the F3 to make each and every game I’ve played in over the past 14 years. Mum, Dad, my sister Becky and my brother Matt have been the secure base that have enabled me to chase and realise my dreams.”

“My wife Madelin, I can’t say enough about how important she has been in my career. For the past 13 years Maddi has put up with the highs and lows I’ve been through and has always been extremely supportive and someone I’ve been able to rely on.

“A very important person in my life, on and off the field, Maddi has also given me 3 beautiful children (Sophie 7, Lincoln 4, Evie 3 months) who have played a huge role in helping dad take his mind off football in the stressful times. I truly believe these four people have had a huge impact on my career and have made me a better person.”

“And I really want to thank every Eels supporter out there and to let them know how important their support has been to me over the years. This is evidenced by the many cards, photos and letters of support I have received over the years (all of which I have kept). We have the most passionate fans in the NRL and it’s a great feeling to know they’re always behind me and the boys.”

For Eels CEO Bob Bentley, whilst losing one of the team’s most popular and most consistent players would be a loss – the positive for the club now, is that it gains a terrific role model in Burt, who will be able to pass on all of his knowledge in both footy and life to the younger brigade of players, currently making their way through the grades.

“Luke Burt will rightly go down as one of this Club’s great players and favourite sons,” Bentley said.

“He’s developed himself into one of the game’s great point-scorers and to build a resume like his takes more than just talent – his professionalism and work ethic has always been second to none.

“It’s not hard to see that these qualities will see him become a very valuable member of staff, and his experience as a player is crucial to the success of the role he’ll be taking up.

“I know there’ll be a lot of Parra fans out there who will be disappointed Luke won’t be running out with the team in 2013, but they can be safe in the knowledge that one of our Club’s legends will have a guiding hand in the development of our talented youngsters moving forward.”

By ricky

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