FEATHERSTONE ROVERS forward Brett Delaney has had to retire with immediate effect after the former Leeds Rhinos star was told he needs more surgery on a serious facial injury.
The Australian back-row, who won four Super League titles during nearly a decade with Leeds, suffered the injury while playing for Rhinos last July.
Delaney, 33, joined Featherstone on a two-year deal at the end of October and was looking forward to continuing his career in the Championship.
However, he saw the facial injury - a badly broken nose and fractured eye socket which then twice became badly infected and affected his vision - flare-up again when playing in Rovers’ friendly against Halifax last month.
“I’m hugely thankful to Featherstone for giving me the opportunity to continue in my career,” said the player, who first arrived in the UK from Gold Coast Titans in 2010.
“Unfortunately it’s not worked out and it looks like I will have to have another operation, but I’ve still really enjoyed the short time I’ve had here.
“I’ve had a great career, where I’ve done everything and don’t have any regrets.
“I’d like to give a special thanks to all my coaches and the supporters at Leeds and Featherstone.
“Rugby league really has a special community and now I’m looking forward to continuing my work with the Foundation at Leeds.
“I’m looking at continuing with my coaching badges too and working with young players, probably on defence.”
The rugged Delaney, who will be remembered as one of Super League’s best-value overseas imports, added: “I spoke to the boys at training last night.
“They’re a good squad with a good coach in Ryan (Carr) and I expect them to do well and compete right at the top this season.”
Delaney started his career in the NRL at Parramatta Eels before making more than 60 appearances for Titans between 2007 and 2009.
When he moved to Headingley, he quickly established himself as a quality back-row, renowned for his defensive appetite and toughness.
As well as those Old Trafford successes, Delaney featured in the victorious 2012 World Club Challenge side and also twice won the Challenge Cup at Wembley, including in the historic-trebling winning year of 2015.
Featherstone CEO Davide Longo said: “Brett has been an exceptional rugby league player during a golden era at Leeds Rhinos.
“We are disappointed that Featherstone Rovers and the fans didn’t get the opportunity to see Brett perform in the Championship this season, but absolutely understand that Brett’s health and family is paramount in these situations and must come first.
“Brett’s decision wasn't easy to make and shows the level of integrity, professionalism and respect for the game that he has demonstrated throughout his career.
“We wish him all the best and thank him for his short time here at Featherstone Rovers.”