True Blue Anthony Tupou has been forced to retire from the game; due to a hip injury he suffered in round ten.
Tupou represented the NSW VB Blues on four occasions in 2007 and 2008, and has played 240 games in the NRL since 2004.
“I took a hit-up and while I was being tackled, my leg was hit the wrong way and twisted,” Tupou recalled.
“I knew something was wrong as soon as it happened.
“It has been tough to come to terms with retiring because I wanted to play at least one more year, but I also know I have been lucky to stay in this great game for so long.”
A Newcastle junior, Tupou made his NRL debut in 2004 playing for the Sydney Roosters. He played 111 games for the Roosters before linking with the Cronulla Sharks in 2009, and playing a further 125 games.
Tupou then played one season with Wakefield Trinity in the English Super League, before returning to play with the Knights this season.
“I am very grateful for the experiences rugby league has given to my family and I,” Tupou said.
“I’m also grateful for the lessons I have learned in my fifteen years on the 'rugby league rollercoaster'.”
Tupou made his long-awaited debut in red and blue in round five this season and played four games before the hip injury that sidelined him indefinitely.
“Even though I didn’t get to play and help as much as I wanted, I will always be proud to have worn the red and blue,” Tupou said.
“When I got the call to confirm I’d be playing at the Knights this year, it was a special moment not just for me, but for my whole family.
“For me, it was the same feeling as being picked for Origin and the Kangaroos.
“I’m so grateful to have played alongside these young men, who will dominate in the next few years.”
The 34-year-old has had a stellar career, which has included 11 tests for Australia, one test match for Tonga among his Origin appearances.
“Highlights for me have included representing Mum and Dad’s heritage by playing for both Australia and Tonga,” he said.
“Obviously making my debut for the Roosters in 2004 was an unforgettable time in my life.
“While another special moment was when a Sharks fan bought my playing jumper that I played in a few days after my sister Charmian had passed away, and presented it to me in a frame.
“A final highlight to mention was playing first grade at the Newcastle Knights.”
There are many people for Tupou to acknowledge as he hangs up the boots after 240 NRL matches.
“Firstly thank you to my parents, Viki and Lelea, for your patience and love,” Tupou said.
“To my wife Kimberley and sons Ryder and Jovi, no words can explain!
“My sisters Charm, Tia and Tanya, my brothers Will, Soa and Benj, you have been my motivation through my whole career, and my cousin Rik, you were the reason I wanted to play footy.
“To all of my extended family thank you, I know you have always kept me in your prayers. My father-in-law Steve and to my awesome manager, Wok Wright.
“To everyone that has played a part in my career and the many friends I’ve been fortunate to make along the way from my first coach at the Waratah Cheetahs Jason to my last coach Nathan Brown, and a lot of special people in between.
“Also thank you to Brad Fittler, a former teammate and coach and mentor throughout my career and Rogan Yates for your guidance.”
The Newcastle Knights will farewell departing players, including Tupou, with an on-field presentation following Sunday’s Old Boys Day match at McDonald Jones Stadium.