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St George Illawarra forward Trent Merrin has announced his immediate retirement from the National Rugby League.

The local Shellharbour Sharks junior retires with 250 first grade games to his name, including stints with the Penrith Panthers (2016-18) and Leeds Rhinos (2019).

First entering the Dragons' system via the Illawarra Steelers in 2004, Merrin progressed through to the Toyota Cup where he was two-time recipient of the Paul McGregor Trophy as Under-20s Player of the Year (2008-09).

Merrin made his debut in Round 12, 2009 against Penrith in Wollongong – the first of 151 NRL games for the Dragons.

Merrin won further accolades in the form of the Geoff Selby Memorial Trophy (2012) and the prestigious Dragons Medal (2013) throughout his time at the Red V.

Merrin is the last remaining player at the Dragons to have featured in the club's 2010 grand final and 2011 World Club Challenge successes.

The 31-year-old also represented New South Wales Origin 13 times and for Australia in seven Tests. Merrin also donned the NSW Country and NRL All Stars jersey three times throughout his illustrious career.

"I'm very happy to be able to finish my career on my own terms. This was a decision where I had to be true to myself. I have outgrown the game and the game has outgrown me, although my appreciation for rugby league will never die," Merrin said.

"My dream growing up was always to play for the Dragons, a club I have always held in high esteem. I have achieved everything my younger self ever wanted and that is something I'll always be grateful for.

"The time I spent at the Penrith Panthers, another prestigious club I hold close to my heart, remains one of the proudest things I also had the pleasure of being part of.

"I wouldn't have been able to achieve everything I have without my family and the sacrifices they made. They, alongside my beautiful fiancé and baby boy, have been there throughout the highs and lows of my career.

"They also rode the wave of emotion when it came to this decision to conclude a wonderful career. I'm keen to see the younger players step up in my place as the Dragons continues its exciting journey."

Dragons coach Anthony Griffin paid tribute to Merrin in wake of his decision to retire.

"I had the privilege of coaching Trent across four seasons of his career. He's a tremendous team man and will be sorely missed throughout the playing group," Griffin said.

"Trent has accomplished everything there is to do in rugby league and leaves behind a great legacy as a premiership winner with St George Illawarra."

Dragons general manager of football Ben Haran confirmed the Dragons would celebrate the career of Trent at the club's upcoming Round 8 home game against the Wests Tigers at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Sunday, May 2.

"Everyone at the Dragons is really supportive of Trent's decision. He is a player and person of the highest character and quality and must be congratulated for an outstanding career," Haran said.

"Trent will undoubtedly go down as a legend of the St George Illawarra Dragons and we look forward to celebrating his career and contributions to the club over the coming weeks."