In the end, Kade Snowden’s body couldn’t handle it.
The Newcastle forward on Friday announced his NRL retirement one year early, finally bringing an end to a long battle with a neck injury that had sidelined him since the Knights’ 2016 season-opening game.
It is the first time the 29-year-old has played less than 17 games in a season since 2007.
“It has been a tough year not being able to contribute to the team but my body just couldn’t do it anymore,” Snowden said.
“A number of injuries, but primarily my neck, have forced an early retirement from the game that has been my whole life.”
Because injury forced Snowden to retire, the estimated $400,000 he is owed next year is believed to be wiped off the Knights’ salary cap for next season.
He is one of two forwards confirmed on Friday to be leaving the Hunter at the end of the year, with Robbie Rochow announcing a move to South Sydney on a one-year deal.
James McManus and Jeremy Smith are also retiring at season’s end.
Snowden, a former NSW State of Origin and Australian representative, finishes his 12-year career on 174 games, including 82 at Cronulla from 2008-11.
Snowden paid tribute to then-Sharks coach Ricky Stuart for helping him earn two appearances for the Blues and his solitary Kangaroos Test during his time in the Shire.
“Thank you to the two clubs, and especially Ricky Stuart, who turned me into the man and player that other players wanted to play with,” he said.
Having made his debut with the Knights, Snowden then returned back to his former club, where he played his final five seasons.
“I was so happy I was able to play my last couple of years at the Knights,” he said.
“To have my family and friends support me every week and to represent Newcastle meant the world, even though it has been cut short.”