Marcus St Hilaire is ready to call time on a rugby league career spanning 17 years and more than 300 competitive games.
The 34-year-old Oldham centre will hang up his boots when the Roughyeds’ play-off adventure, which starts at Rochdale on Sunday, comes to an end.
“In a club that has loads of exciting kids on the way up, I don’t want to be an old has-been,” he said. “I start a new job soon in a children’s home, but not until the day after the Grand Final!”
For the last three, he has worked closely with head coach Tony Benson, who paid this tribute to a player he described as the “consummate professional”.
“Everyone at the club,” said Tony, “has been privileged to work with ‘Junior’. He has had a fantastic career, most of it spent at the highest level, and he has had a huge influence in the dressing room throughout his time here.
“He would never tire of doing anything he could to help and he liked nothing better, in his quiet and unobtrusive manner, than to give as much assistance as he could to the younger guys. We will miss him heaps.”
St Hilaire was poised to retire when he left Bradford at the end of the 2007 season, but Oldham chief Chris Hamilton and the then coach, Steve Deakin, lured him to the Roughyeds on a two-year contract.
“They ‘sold’ the club to me,” he said, “and I’ve never once regretted it. I love the place, to be honest. I’d like to play on and on and on in the Oldham jersey, but my body is getting older and I’ve got to start thinking about the future.
“I’ll miss the club and the boys and I’ll miss the game, I’ve been steeped in it ever since I left school — but I would hate to stand in the way of a younger player and there are loads of them at the club who are fully deserving of their chance.
“Players like Shaun Robinson, Matthew Fogarty and Jamie Dallimore, just to name three, have done superbly well since they stepped up and they have all the attributes to make a mark on the game. They are not on their own, either. You’ve only to look at the success of the reserves to see that.
“These boys are the future of the club. My time is up.”
Born in Huddersfield in 1977, Marcus signed for the Giants in 1994 before moving to Leeds in 1996 as a 19-year-old, scoring 39 tries in 111 senior appearances for the Rhinos, which included Challenge Cup final appearances against London Broncos at Wembley in 1999 and against Bradford at Murrayfield a year later.
He scored a try off the bench in each of those finals as part of a side skippered by Iestyn Harris and including Barrie McDermott at prop.
In 1998, a year before his Wembley appearance, he played at Old Trafford in the first Super League Grand Final of its kind as part of the Leeds side beaten by Wigan.
He later had a second spell at Huddersfield before transferring to Bradford, playing a total of 201 Super League games and scoring 73 tries in that elite competition.
He played twice for England, against France, and represented his country in various sevens competitions, even turning out for the England RU sevens squad in a Commonwealth Games tournament which also included Kenya and Lucas Onyango.