Payne to retire from the NRL
Thursday August 2, 2012
One of the biggest contributors to the North Queensland Cowboys since their inception in 1995, hooker Aaron Payne, has decided to retire from the NRL at the end of this season.
The 29-year-old sits in second place on the list of most NRL games played for the Cowboys and will continue his close ties with the club in a junior development role next year.
A junior with the Centrals Tigers in Townsville, Payne made his debut for the Cowboys in round 12 of the 2002 season against St George Illawarra and has been part of each of the club’s four finals campaigns, including in 2005 when North Queensland made the grand final for the first time.
The number nine brought up his double-century of NRL games earlier this year to make him eligible for life membership of the Cowboys – an honour only held by three others.
He has now made 213 appearances to trail only fullback Matthew Bowen, who has taken his tally to 244 games.
Paul Bowman, with 203 matches, is the only other player to run out at least 200 times in Cowboys colours.
“I just felt the time was right to retire,” Payne said today.
“I’m not getting any younger and the body’s not what it used to be.
“I’m looking forward to staying involved with the club at a development level and having some weekends with my young family.”
Among the other highlights of Payne’s career were his Cowboys Player of the Year awards in 2006 and 2008, being named Clubman of the Year in 2008 and being selected in the NRL All Stars squad at the start of this season.
“Aaron has been a wonderful player for the Cowboys over the past 11 seasons,” Cowboys General Manager – Football Peter Parr said.
“He will always be thought of as one of our finest players and what makes his career even more special is that he’s a Townsville boy who was a one-team man with his local club here in North Queensland.
“It is a huge feat to play the number of matches he has at the highest level of club football and he’s done it in one of the toughest positions on the field.”
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