SO, we don’t have league points anymore and it looks like we might be playing behind closed doors for a bit longer than everyone expected or hoped.
The coronavirus crisis has convinced me I have done the right thing by deciding to retire at the end of this year, though after yesterday’s Challenge Cup win against Castleford, maybe I will squeeze in one more trip to Wembley.
The way the season is panning out, I think the RFL and Super League had to come up with something because there’s every chance not all clubs will get the full 22 rounds completed. It makes sense to have a plan for not finishing the season, so the big question is – what should that plan be?
There’s almost a bit of a blame game with the coronavirus, certainly in the early weeks after the resumption, but I think recent events have shown it is just one of those things; it is in society, everyone is affected and we are no different.
We have to live our lives away from the sport, it has affected everybody and no one is to blame. The game had to come up with a plan to recognise that not every team will finish the season, but I still think the best team will rise to the top.
It might have been different if it was first past the post, but we’ve got a play-off so four teams will battle it out at the end of the year and the one which has dealt best with adversity throughout this year will win the Grand Final.
Having said that, it’s still disappointing it has come to this because on the resumption of Super League, last month, I and everyone else in the sport had so much excitement for myself, the team and the sport.
Personally, I had 15 last weeks of rugby league to enjoy it and sadly, it has not really turned out that way. In fact, it has almost got to the point where I will be glad to see the back end of this year. I know there’s a lot of people in a far worse situation, but for me that’s perhaps a good thing.
Back in 2017 when I retired I ummed and ahhed about the decision for some time, wrestled with it and still didn’t know if I had made the right call. Whether I did or I didn’t, 12 months later I was back on the field.
This time I am well and truly content with the decision of not playing again in 2021. I’ve been asked a few times if having six months off, during lockdown, changed my mind, but it didn’t. I didn’t play against Warrington in the last game before the time off, when Lee Radford got the sack.
I had played a few games before and it almost felt like – after the Leeds game when everything was great – Radders’ job was on the line every week.
I was trying to be part of the team that helped get everything back on track, to the point where I had played a couple of back-to-back games and when the Warrington game came around I just physically wasn’t able to do it.
My body had reached the stage where it just wasn’t recovering. One of my knees flared up and it felt like it just wasn’t getting better, no matter what I did – rest, work hard, recover or re-hab wise. It felt like that might be it and it was time to hang my boots up, but then coronavirus kicked in and I thought there was no point making any rash decisions, I’ll see how this month – as we all thought it might be back then – goes.
Six months later, I felt good, but I’d seen the writing on the wall. Don’t get me wrong, I can do a job and a decent job and speaking to our coach Andy Last, he trusts me to go out and do a job for him, but the fact is, it is not to the level I want and expect to be able to play at.
It is not particularly enjoyable playing at a lower level; even though my head says I can do it, sometimes my body isn’t quite capable.
I come off the field sometimes, especially if the team isn’t playing particularly well, thinking ‘I need to do more’, but I don’t know how much more I can give.
I have always prided myself on being a player who stood up and was counted, whatever the result and set the example and intensity for others, but you can’t do that forever – if you could, everyone would play until they were 40.
It’s just one of those things, time catches up on you.
I feel I have squeezed every bit of potential out of myself and – after coming out of retirement – I’ve got to a point where I am comfortable and happy and can look back on a very good career and know the time is right.