By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
Retiring Dragons co-captain Ben Creagh has declined the opportunity to play a farewell NRL game against the Newcastle Knights this weekend.
Creagh was named in the No. 12 jumper by coach Paul McGregor on Tuesday afternoon but after training with the team throughout the week wasn't confident with how his ongoing knee issues would hold up.
Creagh being named to play the Knights will now serve as a tribute, with him set to prepare, warm up and sit on the bench in his favoured No. 12 jumper.
The inspirational back-rower will retire with 270 NRL games, two Tests for Australia, 12 Origins for New South Wales and the 2010 Telstra Premiership victory under his belt.
"Unfortunately my knee's that bad now. It's not getting better. It's not what I want to remember my last game as: going out there, struggling, getting run past and missing tackles so I won't play this weekend," Creagh said.
"The club's done a nice thing by naming me in the 12 jersey, I played a lot of games there for the Dragons. It'd be a token game if I played. But I wouldn't have been able to play for very long,
"I don't really want to go out there if I can't compete at 100 per cent and I don't want to let the guys down."
Creagh – the second most-capped St George Illawarra player ever – said he was looking forward to the tribute game nonetheless despite him not being able to play.
"To be named in the 12 on the last home game of the year, my last game as a player of the club, is really special," he said.
"I'm really looking forward to Saturday, although I'm not playing, it will be a really special day for me."
Fellow departing Dragon Benji Marshall – a former New Zealand skipper in his own right – offered Creagh a glowing appraisal.
"I can honestly say with my time here, he's probably the best leader I've ever seen or been under and probably the most-respected player that I've seen," Marshall said.
"Just the way he carries himself and I think if you talk to anyone around the club, you wouldn't find a person who'd say a bad word about him.
"From my point of view, the stuff he's done for me away from football is more important than the stuff with football."
Creagh has been the man to lead the team song throughout the season despite not playing since Round 3, but refused to name his successor.
"I'm not going to nominate anyone. They can sort it amongst themselves," he laughed.
"There's a few guys that'll put their hands up who'd love to do it."