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Wiliame makes call to end playing career

Well-travelled One New Zealand Warriors centre Brayden Wiliame has ended his playing career.

The 30-year-old former Fiji Bati international had another season to run on his two-year deal but has made the decision to retire after an injury-troubled first season with the club.

He started the 2023 campaign as one of new head coach Andrew Webster's first-choice centres, making his debut as One New Zealand Warrior #273 in the opening round 20-12 win over the Newcastle Knights in Wellington. 

He backed up the following week in a tight loss to the Sydney Roosters but those two appearances were to be his only NRL outings of a season in which he was troubled by ongoing Achilles tendon and calf issues.

In a post on his Instagram account he said: “From a happy-go-lucky kid moving to Melbourne at 16 to now, a happy-go-lucky man, husband and father calling time on my footy career 14 years later. This journey has been anything but smooth. But I’m grateful for every moment because it’s led me to exactly where I’m meant to be.”

Wiliame has finished his playing career with 48 NRL appearances after making his first-grade debut with Parramatta in 2013.

“Brayden is a really special person who has brought so much to the club in the short time he has been with us,” said Webster.

“He was set to be a really important part of our season only to be hampered by injuries but he still had a huge impact off the field with his professionalism and his mentoring skills. We all feel for him making this decision and I look forward to what’s ahead for him.”

In his post, Wiliame went on to say: “Thank you to all the great clubs I’ve had the pleasure of playing for (not enough room to write you all). Thank you for all the friendships, the coaches and all the awesome experiences.

“I need to make particular mention to the @nzwarriors for their support since I arrived here both on and off the field. I came with every intention to play in the NRL again and though it was short-lived I’m proud as to be Warrior #273.

“My family and I have stories to last a lifetime because of this sport and we will be forever grateful.

“One door’s closing and another one is opening. Excited as for what’s next.”

Wiliame also had NRL stints with Manly Warringah and St George Illawarra while a three-season stay with Les Catalans in the Super League was highlighted by a 20-14 victory over Warrington in the 2018 Challenge Cup final when he was a try scorer.

After playing the first two games of the 2023 NRL season, Wiliame had a long lay-off with a calf injury before making his comeback with the New South Wales Cup side. He went on to make nine appearances as the team made it to the preliminary final.

However, in that contest Wiliame was forced off the field after just 27 minutes as the Warriors went on to lose 24-28 to North Sydney.

Wiliame was in the Fiji Bati side that stunned the Kiwis 4-2 in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup quarter-final in Wellington.

He also had a stint playing rugby union for Perpignan in France last year.

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