Eorl Crabtree admitted that he doesn’t speak about his achievements a lot because he never won a trophy, but is immensely proud of his career nonetheless.
The 36-year-old was a one club man, making his debut for hometown club Huddersfield Giants in 2001.
Crabtree played 423 first-team games in total for the Giants, scoring 79 tries. He started his career as a centre, before moving into the back-row and then finishing in the front-row.
He made his international debut for England in 2004 and went on to earn 14 caps for his country. Crabtree was also named in the Super League Dream Team in 2013.
Crabtree announced his retirement on November 7, 2016. He still works for Huddersfield in an ambassadorial role.
We caught up with Eorl and had a natter about his playing days…
You played in a number of roles during your career, but which role did you prefer?
“I enjoyed playing in the centres. I scored a lot of tries, it was a lot easier for me to play in the centres rather than the pack and I made some good carries. You don’t have to tackle much in the centres so I loved it!
“It was a different era back then. The lads were so close, there was no social media so all of the lads got together quite a bit. We enjoyed ourselves and stuck together, the game has totally changed since them days. When I went into the forwards, I got to represent my country so I was very fortunate to do that – but if I’m being honest, scoring tries for fun in the centres was more enjoyable.”
Did you ever think you would make as many appearances at the highest level as you did?
“I always thought I would play for a long time. In fact, I thought my career was cut short and I’m not particularly happy about that, but it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me because it meant that I could look at my future and do different things.
“423 games are a lot and my body can feel it as well but I’ve enjoyed myself. It got tougher towards the end of my career, I won’t lie. I had 13 operations for rugby league related injuries but nothing too major. I’m really fortunate that I had a long career and I am very proud of being able to get 14 caps for my country. I played against the Exiles twice in two series’ as well, but they don’t go towards the caps which is a bit frustrating but I still loved it and managed to live my dream that many people don’t get the chance to do.”
Why don’t England games against the Exiles count as caps?
“It’s because they weren’t classed as international games, but for me, that seems pointless. It is a Test series but because it wasn’t against international opposition then it didn’t count which is daft.
“I still represented my country and I don’t get why it is not a cap for your country. It’s a bit confusing to be honest.”
You’ve been retired for over two years now, but which is the proudest moment to look back on?
“I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve played a lot of games. Pulling on the England shirt is a massive achievement for myself and I was selected in the Super League Dream Team, which I always wanted to be in.
“Playing in the Four Nations and being on tour with England was brilliant but to be honest, the proudest moment was when I got the Players’ Player of the Year award, the Coaches Player of the Year and I cleaned up on the awards at the Giants – to be voted the best by your peers and the lads you play alongside means more than anything.
“I’ve recently been inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Giants, which is another proud moment. I’m the first person in over 30 years with the record of playing so many games for the club. I don’t talk about my achievements a lot because I’ve never won a major trophy, it never happened and it’s just one of those things, but I’m very proud nonetheless.”