Andrew Johns today announced the end of a magnificent career, following medical advice with regards to his latest neck injury.
Johns had been suffering from a neck injury for a number of years and this was only aggravated in a training accident last Thursday. An unfortunate collision with teammates Daniel Abraham and Adam Woolnough led to his most recent injury, and upon medical advice he has decided to leave the game for good.
It is a sad end to what has been a memorable career. Many have labeled Johns as the best player to have ever played the game. He has led his beloved Newcastle Knights as well as his state and country, all while earning the respect of his peers as well as admiration from all rugby league fans.
"I'm still in shock, to be honest," Johns told the press conference.
"I'm totally numb. It was really tough telling my family. I made an emotional call to my brother Matthew, but it was even tougher telling players this afternoon.
Johns told his teammates of his retirement about an hour before the press conference.
"I wanted to tell them before this conference.
"But yes, it's been a massive shock.
"I would have loved to have finished with a Premiership, but this could’ve happened when I was 19 years old. I achieved so much in the game.
"It's a shock, but I'm totally disappointed as I have great memories and great friendships from the game.
"But this is one of the most emotional things I've had to do – really tough."
Johns has been cleared from any long-term problems, however risked a serious spinal injury if he continued playing. In the end the decision had to be made and he will certainly be missed by all rugby league supporters.
Johns has played a club record 249 first grade games for the Knights as well as playing 23 matches for New South Wales, 21 Tests for Australia and was a member of the Kangaroos' 1995 and 2000 World Cup-winning teams.
The Knights have been talking about 'life without Joey' for quite some time, but were probably expecting it to begin at the start of the 2008 season. Bookmakers have already written off the Knights' chances in 2007 and it will be interesting to see how they progress, knowing that the great Andrew Johns has played his last game.