Nightingale: Last Man Standing
By Jack Brady (NRL.com)
St George Illawarra co-captain Ben Creagh's retirement leaves just Jason Nightingale remaining at the Dragons from the team which won the NRL Premiership six seasons ago.
The Dragons farewelled Creagh, Mike Cooper, Benji Marshall and fellow long-time teammate Mitch Rein following the club's 28-26 win over the Newcastle Knights on Saturday afternoon.
Capping off a special week for the 29-year-old – who became a father for the first time during the week – the Kiwi international was the star of the show against the Knights where he scored two tries and made 239 metres.
On a day where former Dragons premiership-winning teammate and Knights co-captain Jeremy Smith also retired, Nightingale said memories of the 2010 grand final will last a lifetime no matter where his ex-teammates find themselves moving forward.
"As it stands I'm the last one left. But just because you're there playing footy doesn't mean we don't share those memories and times with people whenever we see them," Nightingale told NRL.com.
"People like 'Jezza' (Smith) retired but he's still part of our memories.
"Then there's others who are still involved in our club like Ben Hornby and Dean Young so those memories will go on forever.
"Who knows somebody might come back one day.
"There's a few more years in Trent's legs and I don't know about the Morris twins but they're older than me so who knows," he added with a laugh.
Creagh may have retired on Saturday but Nightingale believes his influence off the field will still be felt at the club in the years to come.
"Somebody like Benny Creagh never leaves this club. He's going to be at our club for a long time," Nightingale said.
"His leadership off the field will still be around. He'll still be a guy that I lean on at different times of my career, I know that.
"He's always happy to help out and has great advice so we won't lose him as far as off-field things go. He's someone who will always make himself available to his mates and he sure has a lot of them.
"There was plenty of emotion in the sheds before the game and it was a very great way to celebrate the careers of so many people who have been great for this club especially Ben Creagh."
Creagh spoke of his pride in being able to lead out the Dragons one final time despite a knee injury preventing him from playing since Round 3.
"It was a pretty big day. It was pretty emotional two weeks ago when I announced my retirement. That was a big day for me," Creagh said.
"But [on Saturday], I was able to enjoy the day with my teammates although I wasn't playing.
"It was good to see the boys get the win. I had a lot of family and friends here to celebrate my last day as a Dragons first-grader.
"It was a happy day for me."