DONCASTER KNIGHTS legend Matt Challinor admits this could be his final season for the South Yorkshire club as he contemplates a “transition into the real world.”
The veteran lock, who has made more than 200 appearances since joining from Rotherham Titans in 2010, turns 34 next month and concedes it may soon be time to concentrate on life after full-time professional rugby.
Although Challinor has been a regular again for the Championship side this term, producing performances full of his customary grit, he knows he is not guaranteed a spot in Clive Griffiths’s squad for 2018-19.
“I am out of contract at the end of this season but I think that’s the case with almost everyone,” said the Knights club captain.
“I think there’s only (full-back) Paul Jarvis who is currently on a two-year deal.
“I know in the past the club preferred to give two-year contracts and players do tend to like that for a bit more stability.
“But we have got a bit of an ageing team now, too, so you can sort of see the thinking.
“I have had a little meeting with Clive but he’s not given much away and nothing’s happened since so we’ll have to see.
“Obviously, I’m at that age where I do have to start thinking about what next, though.”
Challinor has plenty of options if he does decide to retire given he already has qualifications as a project manager while playing part-time in National League One is also a possibility.
“It’s that transition into the real world isn’t it?” he continued.
“I do have a few job opportunities that might be coming up while there’s some playing opportunities that might not necessarily involve full-time training.
“It’s about trying to get a good mix at the right time. I have worked for a couple of firms over the last couple of years, going in on my day off from Donny, so I’ve had a taste of what’s to come.
“It’s just deciding when’s the right time to make the move and where.”
In the meantime, though, he has this weekend free given there are no fixtures, Knights having plenty of time, then, to prepare for next Saturday’s British & Irish Cup home fixture against Championship leaders Bristol.
They will be without fellow lock Nick Civetta for that after the USA international – on dual-registration from Newcastle Falcons – was given a three-week ban following his red card in the agonising 32-30 injury-time league loss to Yorkshire Carnegie.
He can play again on January 29 – the day after Doncaster’s Championship game at Nottingham – with the forward also missing the B&I Cup games versus Bristol and at Leinster A. Civetta, who was dismissed for dangerous charging into a ruck and making contact with Will Homer’s head, is next available for the Knights in their home league against London Scottish on February 10.
Meanwhile, Doncaster No 8 Aaron Carpenter has had to retire from professional rugby on medical grounds following a series of head injuries.
The 34-year-old, who collected 80 caps for Canada and became their most capped player this summer, made 16 appearances at Castle Park after joining from London Welsh last January.
He suffered consecutive head injuries while playing for the club earlier this season and then had more problems while representing his country versus Spain in November.
“After three concussions in a short period of time, it is with sadness I announce my retirement from the game,” said Carpenter.
“I wish I could have finished off this season with my team but it just wasn’t meant to be. I have had an amazing run in the game and consider myself fortunate to have had so many memorable experiences in my rugby career.
“I look forward to the next chapter in my life. I hope to stay involved with rugby at some level and give back to the game as well as the rugby community.”
Griffiths said: “We are devastated that Aaron has been forced to retire from the game in the nature that he has.
“I first came across Carps with Canada over 10 years ago and not only has he become a very important player for me but also a good friend. He has had a fantastic career at both club and international level, always leading by example with a faultless attitude.
“While disappointing for Aaron you can’t gamble with injuries of this nature and with a young family to think of I believe Aaron has made the right decision.
“I really do hope that Aaron stays in the game in some form, particularly in his native Canada where he has already played such a big part of their international development.”