Matt Prior considered retiring before returning to Leeds after lockdown struggles

Matt Prior revealed he considered hanging up his boots after struggling last year through lockdown – but is confident in his decision to return to Leeds.

The 33-year-old joined the Rhinos on a two-year deal ahead of last season after winning two NRL titles with St George Illawarra Dragons and Cronulla Sharks.

Prior enjoyed a successful 2020 campaign with Leeds, helping the Rhinos lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley as well as winning the club’s Player of the Year award.

But Prior revealed he and his family struggled off the field last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, which saw five months of no rugby league action.

The former New South Wales representative returned home to Australia at the end of the season, and even weighed up the option of calling time on his career before deciding to return to Headingley.

He said: “I struggled a bit being in lockdown for large amounts of the year last year so it was hard to bring my family back over and to make them do it for such a long time.

“I guess you will all know the difficulty you are all facing at the moment and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put my partner under that kind of strain so the club worked with me to give me as much time off as possible and waited until there was a roadmap to see what was to come out of it all and things are looking up so I’m glad to be back and I’m looking forward to getting back around the boys and being back in training.

“Now I’m back I feel like I’ve made the right call. I’m happy to be back. My family is not over yet, they’re going to stay another month until things get a little bit better and then we’ll fly them over and things will start going back to normal and I’ll get on with footy and we’ll be good.

“I was weighing up in my mind about retiring but I don’t know what I’d do to be honest. I’ve only got one skill and that’s playing footy so I’m going to keep playing footy as long as I can. I’m lucky enough to be able to do it for a job which is pretty cool, so I’ll try and keep going for as long as I can.”

Matt Prior made 16 appearances for Leeds in 2020

Prior revealed that it was a tough call to leave his native Australia and return to Leeds at this tough time but says he has “unfinished business” in the game as he aims for another big year with the Rhinos.

He added: “Once we got back to Australia and back around our family, we had our friends and everything so we had a lot more support than we did over here in the sense you can drop your little one off to your in-laws and stuff.

“It did make things easier being home and I weighed up whether to stay home and get a normal job and get onto the next chapter of my life. Its coming and its probably not too far off but I still feel like I’ve got unfinished business so that’s why I’ve come back.”

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