NOTABLE GRAND FINAL NRL FAREWELLS
Glenn Lazarus – Melbourne Storm (1999)
Lazarus capped a 254-game career by becoming the first player to win premierships at three different clubs (Canberra 1990, Brisbane ’92, ’93, ’97). Lazarus announced his retirement in May before leading Melbourne to an inaugural title in their second season. He didn’t miss a game in his final year, bowing out with 22 matches for NSW and 22 for Australia. In front of a record crowd of 107,999 at Stadium Australia, Melbourne’s win included the controversial penalty try to winger Craig Smith.
Michael Hancock – Brisbane Broncos (2000)
The jack-in-the-box back ended a 14-year career at the Broncos with a fifth premiership. Brisbane’s last remaining original player, Hancock spent 2000 as a super sub on the bench but he wouldn’t have cared after a 14-6 win over Sydney Roosters. Hancock, third on Brisbane’s all-time list for games played with 274, then spent two seasons in the English Super League with Salford City before hanging up the boots.
Brett Mullins – Sydney Roosters (2002)
One of the game’s most electric fullbacks, Brett Mullins made his name at the Canberra Raiders but iced his career with success at the Sydney Roosters. Mullins, who won the 1994 title with the Green Machine, left Canberra for a stint in Leeds in 2001 but returned to Australia the following year for a Sydney swansong. He crossed for 17 tries in his final season as a 30-year-old as the Roosters turned on a second-half clinic to beat the Warriors 30-8 in the decider.
Brad Fittler – Sydney Roosters (2004)
The final match of Brad Fittler’s 336-game career is proof that not all fairytales go to plan. Fittler’s Roosters were beaten16-13 by Canterbury, 15 years after he debuted for Penrith as a teenager. Remarkably, the ’04 loss was his third grand final in three years following a 18-6 loss to Penrith in ’03 and a 30-8 win over the Warriors in ’02. He remains the most-capped NSW player with 31 games.
Shane Webcke – Brisbane Broncos (2006)
A one-club man, Shane Webcke bowed out in style when Brisbane upset minor premiers Melbourne 15-8. After rebounding from a five-game mid-year slump, the Broncos scored 31 unanswered second half points to beat Canterbury in the preliminary final. Webcke was part of a monstrous starting pack including Petero Civoniceva, Brad Thorn, Sam Thaiday and Tonie Carroll. Webcke, who debuted in 1995, played the ’06 grand final three days after his 32nd birthday.
Steve Menzies – Manly Sea Eagles (2008)
The evergreen Menzies equalled Terry Lamb’s record of 349 first-grade appearance as Manly romped to the premiership with a 40-0 thrashing of Melbourne. In a dream farewell, Menzies scored in the second half to take him to 180 tries, second only to Ken Irvine in premiership history. The backrower left Australian shores afterwards but played a further five seasons in the English Super League until age 39.
Matt Geyer – Melbourne Storm (2008)
As Menzies said goodbye to the NRL with a title, Matt Geyer was left licking his wounds. The Storm utility started at centre but was left helpless as the Sea Eagles ran in eight tries. The younger brother of Penrith firebrand Matt, Geyer was signed from the Western Reds for the Storm’s debut season in 1998. He went on to play 262 games for the club, starting in every position apart from prop and second row.