HIS season started with a splitting headache and it has not really got much better for Hull KR hooker Lincoln Withers.
However, the classy hooker – who needed 18 stitches in a head wound suffered during the very first tackle of the campaign at Wakefield – insists he will take plenty of fond memories with him when he leaves MS3 Craven Park.
Ahead of what will now be his final home game for the Robins, Withers confirmed yesterday he will leave at the end of the season and return home to Australia.
Although he was a virtual ever-present in his first season in East Yorkshire, this term has been a frustrating affair with a series of niggling injuries, including a broken toe suffered in training on his return from that horrific head wound.
“I’m undecided as to whether or not I’ll be carrying on playing footy back home or maybe starting a new chapter in my life,” said the 32-year-old, before facing London Broncos.
“I pride myself on my fitness levels and will to win and still feel as though I have plenty to offer as a player so we’ll see what happens.
“This year has been a tough one for me with one or two injuries but hopefully I can finish strongly and help the team end 2013 on a high.
“I’m disappointed to be leaving the club and the start of the year probably didn’t help with that but it is what it is and you move on.”
The ex-Canberra Raiders and St George Illawarra hooker, who joined from Crusaders at the end of 2011, added: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my two years with Hull KR though, and have particularly enjoyed playing at home.
“The fans have been great with me and having been lucky enough to have played on both sides of the world I can tell you that they’re the most vocal and passionate supporters that I’ve come across in rugby league.
“The city itself also seems to get a bit of a bad rap but myself and my family have really enjoyed living here.”
Withers should – barring any more wretched luck – get a final run-out at Craven Park tomorrow as Rovers, who cannot improve their already confirmed eighth spot, look to respond after last week’s disappointing loss at Widnes.
Of course, it will also mark the final home game for celebrated captain Michael Dobson, among others, before his return to the NRL with Newcastle Knights.
Craig Sandercock’s side are without a clutch of players from last week, though, David Hodgson, Josh Hodgson, Con Mika and Adam Walker are all rested ahead of next weekend’s elimination play-off at St Helens.
Sean Gleeson (knee) is missing but in a timely boost, they welcome back England Knights centre Kris Welham for the first time since shoulder surgery in May. Bottom-placed London, meanwhile, are seeking to finish their turbulent campaign on the back of an unlikely double.
They stunned Bradford Bulls at Odsal 20-10 last Sunday and want more of the same on their return to Yorkshire.
“The side played with terrific spirit and travelled well,” said coach Tony Rea.
“They had a good week together and enjoying each other’s company which is important going into the last game so we’re sticking with the same squad,” he added.
Jamie O’Callaghan replaces James Woodburn Hall in the squad.