An emotional Frank Pritchard broke down in tears in the dressing sheds after Canterbury were knocked out of this year’s premiership by the Sydney Roosters on Friday.
The controversial semi-final defeat at Allianz Stadium was Pritchard’s last match in the NRL, having signed a three-year deal with Super League club Hull FC beginning next season.
The former Penrith forward spent time with the fans at the end of the match before throwing his boots into the crowd, and then addressed his teammates for the final time in the locker rooms.
“I made sure I thanked all the players and walked to the other side of the field and thanked the fans,” Pritchard said.
“I gave a speech to the boys that I came to the Bulldogs looking for change, despite not knowing any players. “But now I’ll be definitely leaving with a bunch of boys who are my brothers and my family.”
Pritchard, 31, moved to Belmore at the end of 2010, and was part of both of the club’s sides that went down in the 2012 and 2014 grand finals.
However, the Toa Samoa captain said he was proud to have helped cultivate a successful culture under the guidance of coach Des Hasler, who also turned Pritchard into a major leader at the club.
“We have created a winning culture here at the club and the last couple of seasons we have made it to the grand final but haven’t jumped that hurdle yet so it was pretty disappointing to lose this one,” Pritchard said. “(But) I’ve learnt a lot since being under Des. He has given me free reign on the field and given me a bigger leadership role.
“He has definitely changed my way of playing, especially playing longer minutes too.
“He’s given me the opportunity to stay on as an endurance player so the confidence he has given me is awesome. I can’t thank him enough.”