St George Illawarra Dragons prop Dan Hunt announced on Wednesday his decision to retire from first-grade rugby league as a result of a career-ending injury suffered during the annual NRL Auckland Nines pre-season competition.
Hunt, 28, sustained a significant knee injury during the tournament that has prevented him from playing any rugby league and due to the injury has been unable to recover.
Hunt has concurred with the opinion of multiple medical practitioners and made the decision to retire from the game.
“It is no secret that I have been struggling with injuries throughout my career and unfortunately the injury sustained in pre-season has been career-ending,” said Hunt.
“It has come to the point where my left knee cannot withstand the strain that comes with playing first-grade on a regular basis.
“It is not a decision or day that any rugby league player looks forward too and it has been a difficult time and decision, but after several extensive discussions with both the Club’s Medical Staff as well as various other independent surgeons, this decision is the right one to make for my long-term well-being.”
The local Dapto Canaries junior made his first-grade debut for the Dragons in the opening round of the 2007 campaign against the Gold Coast Titans and played a total of 150 NRL games.
The NSW Country Origin representative (2011) won several honours over his nine-year career with the Dragons including a Premiership (2010) and World Club Challenge (2011) as well as being named in the Prime Minister’s XIII (2012).
“I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent my childhood Club as many times as I have and it feels like only yesterday I put on the jersey for the first time,” said Hunt.
“I arrived here at an early age and had the opportunity to come through the Club’s junior ranks prior to making my debut and cherished every opportunity to wear the Red V when my chance came.
“Winning the Premiership will always be amongst the many highlights of my career and that period of playing rugby league in general is probably my best time playing rugby league overall.
“To be involved in something like that was very special and coupled with the chance of competing months later in the World Club Challenge and playing several representative games are memories that I will never forget.”
Hunt acknowledged that the decision to retire from the NRL had been made somewhat easier by his preparation for life after rugby league through his ongoing tertiary education and other welfare projects, something that he began in recent years.
The forward completed both his respective Certificate IV in Social Welfare and Certificate IV in Drug, Alcohol and Mental Health last year and was awarded the 2014 Student Award for Family and Community Services at TAFE Illawarra.
He has most recently been appointed to the respective roles of Dragons Education Ambassador as well as NRL State of Mind Ambassador whilst commencing studies for his Diploma of Community Services.
“At the Dragons it has always been instilled upon players from an early age that we need to have a focus on life and a career away from rugby league,” said Hunt.
“I am very fortunate to have had the support and guidance of both the Club and NRL to have undertaken study over recent years to help with this moment.
“As an NRL player there is so much influence you can have on the younger generation and I look forward to pursuing this chapter of my life to give back to the community and rugby league.”
Dragons CEO Peter Doust has commended Hunt on a notable career albeit one that ended in difficult circumstances.
“Dan has been a proud one-club man, a local junior who has represented the Dragons at the highest level for almost a decade and it is unfortunate that his career provided many injury challenges including one that would ultimately force his retirement,” said Doust.
“Dan is to be respected for his contributions to the Dragons both on and off the field and for the way that he has positively faced his challenges over the years.
“Dan's commitment to his studies and passion for helping others will ensure that he makes a positive difference to the lives of the youth that he is committed to helping.
“He has already spent countless hours in this space throughout his times rehabilitating from injury and we are pleased that he has seemingly found a new passion to replace his training and playing.
“We are also happy that younger rugby league players will be the beneficiaries given Dan's decision to remain involved with the game and the Club in this capacity.
"On behalf of everyone at the Dragons I would like to thank Dan for his commitment over the seasons and wish him well for his future.”