Following major knee surgery in three of the last four seasons, Vodafone Warriors back rower Ben Henry has today confirmed he will retire at the end of the 2016 NRL season.
The 24-year-old’s fifth NRL campaign was ended by a patella injury to his left knee in the opening match of the season against Wests Tigers in March.
It followed ACL injuries to the same knee in 2013 and 2015, the injuries limiting Henry to just 52 appearances since his NRL debut against Manly at Eden Park in the first round of the 2012 season.
“It’s been a tough call to make because my goals were always to be a professional rugby league player,” he said after telling his team-mates about his decision today.
“It’s a huge disappointment but after all the damage to my knee there really wasn’t any option. While my heart was set on coming back yet again I’ve had to accept my body won’t allow me to compete at the level I need to.
“While there have been setbacks I’m still so grateful for the opportunities rugby league has given me. To be able to play for the club in the NYC and the NRL as well as making my Test debut for my country has been a privilege.
“I’ve played alongside so many great players and I’ll always cherish those times. I want to thank all the team-mates and coaches I’ve had for being there to support me through the good and bad times.
“This isn’t the way I planned it but now I have made this decision I’m ready for the next phase of life after football.”
Ever since he was in the club’s NYC squad from 2009-2011, Henry has prepared himself for a career outside football through ongoing study. He has completed certificates in electrical engineering, small business and computer servicing while he has also been heavily involved in the club’s community, education and wellbeing areas including being an NRL education ambassador in 2013 and 2014 and a NRL State of Mind ambassador in 2015.
Coinciding with his decision to retire, Vodafone Warriors managing director Jim Doyle has announced Henry is in discussions for a role in the club’s football department.
“It’s a sad day for Ben and for all of us seeing his playing career ended so prematurely,” he said.
“Above all Ben is an impressive person with so many qualities and we see him providing so much value to the Vodafone Warriors.
“He has always been extremely professional in all he does, in the way he has prepared himself as a player and equally in the way he has prepared for his life without football.
“In addition to his rugby league career, he has been a champion of our education and wellbeing programme and he has taken on all the opportunities presented to him.
“The primary purpose of the role for Ben is to work with the players, the football department and our education and wellbeing team to promote and drive the success of the NRL team through constantly improving our standards.”
After coming into the Vodafone Warriors development system, Henry made his NYC debut in 2009 and went on to make a club record 64 appearances in the grade. He captained the side in 2010 and 2011, missing the grand final win in 2010 but leading the side to its premiership victory the following year.
Mainly used as a back rower during his NRL career, he also played in the centres. He has finished his career with 17 tries plus three goals in his 52 games.
The Bay Roskill Vikings junior made his Test debut – his only international appearance – in the 2014 Anzac Test against Australia in Sydney.