An emotional Greg Inglis has retired from the NRL at the age of 32, with the Maroons legend saying the time is right to call it quits while denying speculation his retirement is linked to mental health or injury issues.
Inglis told teammates about his plans to hang up the boots on Saturday after their win over the Warriors on the Sunshine Coast. Souths will officially celebrate Inglis' career at the club's next home game against the Broncos.
The NRL champion said there wasn't a single moment that triggered his thoughts on retirement, conceding multiple issues had piled up to force him to hang up the boots early.
"No-one else has called it but myself," Inglis said as he choked back tears at a packed press conference.
"My dad was a legend to me and he still is and unbeknown to me he jumped on a train and turned up here this morning to be with me. I didn’t think it was real so I punched him in the chest and he cried.
"There has been a lot of speculation but as of today it’s official. There are no regrets.
"My teammates are here. They didn’t have to come today but that shows the care of the club.
"This club has given me everything, every opportunity. And my former club Melbourne Storm gave me my opportunity."
The Rabbitohs premiership winner said his retirement from the game wasn't a result of injuries because he had come back from dark times during his career. It was more that he couldn't offer his teammates his best every single week.
"It’s not due to mental health or injuries, I just think it’s the right time for me. I’ve been contemplating it for a while now and I’ve come to terms with it," Inglis said.
"That’s me calling time on my career. No one else has called it. I’m happy with my decision. I get to work with the club and stay around Redfern and work with the boys and the community."
Inglis said it was tough telling his teammates of his decision, revealing star hooker Damien Cook had been overcome with emotion.
“I couldn’t look at Damien Cook, he started crying,” Inglis said.
“He’s a little bit of a sook, my little mate. I couldn’t look at him. He was the first one and I had to put my head down and look elsewhere.
“But yeah, most of the boys were pretty shocked. The ones who knew it was coming. Yeah, the majority of them knew that it was yeah, some were taken back by it. But at the end of the day, all I kept saying was that it was the right decision for myself.”
One of the greatest players of this century, Inglis was been battling a serious shoulder problem and hadn’t played since he was injured in round two.
Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett said he left it up to Inglis to make the decision, figuring his star had earned that much.
“As Greg said, it was his decision, and I’m really pleased for him,” Bennett said.
“It’s the hardest part, I think, of a footballer’s life, is to get to that point, to know when your time is up.
“When you don’t have the passion for it that you need for it, and sometimes, you know, we do play a year too long, stay a year too long.
“Through conversations with people around him, he’s been able to come to a decision he is comfortable with. He has a wonderful reputation and is one of the finest players of his generation.”
Members of the press became nostalgic with their questioning of the South Sydney star, asking Inglis was why he chose to play for Queensland in State of Origin despite being born in NSW.
“I chose to go to Queensland because I was happy up there and felt more at home. I felt wanted and felt I belonged there,” he said.
The legendary Maroons star also reminded fans he didn't jump on the bandwagon with Origin with the Maroons on a horrendous losing streak at the time .
“NSW was on the brink of winning four straight,” he said.
“I was from Kempsey, which is just on the other side of Coolangatta,” he added with a cheeky grin.
The premiership winner is reportedly in line for an ambassador role with the club, while the NRL is also considering bringing Inglis on board due to his massive service to the game.
Damaging at both centre and fullback in club and representative football, Inglis made his name as Melbourne began their dominant era in 2006 and remained part of the Storm's success until forced to leave amid the salary cap scandal.
He landed at Redfern desperate to end the Rabbitohs' title drought, doing so in the 2014 grand final as he scored the final try and sent the burrow into delirium.
His current try-scoring tally stands at 149 in 263 games, his most recent coming as part of a double against Melbourne in last year's finals series.
He was just as dominant at representative level, forming arguably the greatest centre-wing combination in State of Origin history with Darius Boyd on Queensland's left edge.
There he scored the majority of his 18 Origin tries, while also crossing the line 31 times in 39 Kangaroos appearances.