Newcastle Knights forward Chris Heighington

The time comes for all players to hang up the boots and Newcastle Knights forward Chris Heighington has decided that now is the time for him.

After 16 seasons at the highest level and 334 games to boot so far, the veteran forward wanted to go out on his own terms.

Although Heighington’s body was not telling him to retire just yet, the veteran wanted to avoid playing on and risk potential injury.

“A lot of ex-players told me I would know when it’s time, but I haven’t felt that feeling yet, but I do know the pre-seasons are long and another year is a big ask,” Heighington said.

“I want to go out on my terms.

I’m still playing injury free and I don’t want to be greedy.

“I could try and continue to play but I risk picking up a bad injury or slipping in form, so I feel it’s my time to move over and let one of the young boys come in.”

At present, Heighington is the third most capped forward in Australian rugby league, behind only Corey Parker and Cameron Smith.

Whether he was at the Wests Tigers, the Cronulla Sharks or current club Newcastle, Heighington worked hard and played consistently.

For Knights General Manager Football, Darren Mooney,  who was with Heighington at all three of his clubs, his longevity was no surprise.

“For me, it’s no secret Chris has played as many games as he has,” Mooney said.

“The way Chris prepares to play and train, along with lifestyle he lives, is the reason why he has spent 16 seasons playing NRL.”

Mooney praised Heighington as a leader and not only a good player, but a good person.

“Not only is he a true professional but he’s a leader,” Mooney continued.

“Chris makes the people around him better.

Whether that’s on or off the field and that’s the greatest compliment you can give.”

Making his debut with the Tigers in 2003, Heighington spent ten years with the joint venture.

A move to the Sharks then beckoned and he played there until this past season, joining the Knights for what would be his final hurrah.

In that time, Heighington also represented England and won two premierships (one at the Tigers, the other at the Sharks).

When he looks back on his career, the two premierships stick out the most as career highlights for Heighington.

“The two premierships are big highlights,” Heighington said.

“In 2005 at the Wests Tigers, no one expected us to win it.

We weren’t one of the rich Club’s, but we got on a bit of a roll and we delivered the Wests Tigers thirst premiership.

“It was the same for Cronulla. We weren’t expected to win it but we went on a 16-game winning streak and won.”

By ricky

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