Wests Tigers winger Taniela Tuiaki has been forced to announce his retirement from the NRL due to a chronic ankle injury.
The 28-year-old hasn’t played since he suffered the injury against Parramatta in round 24, 2009.
The injury forced him to sit out the entire 2010 season and despite undergoing three operations since, he has been advised to give the game away.
“I am very disappointed to finish my career this way. This is a very sad day for me,” Tuiaki said in a statement.
“When I first suffered the injury, I knew it was bad but I always believed I would return to the playing field for Wests Tigers. I’ve given it my best shot but all the medical advice now confirms that this is not possible.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time at Wests Tigers. The players are like brothers to me and I have plenty of great memories. Wests Tigers have been very good throughout these difficult times and I can’t thank the coaching and medical staff enough for their support and treatment.
“I also would like to thank Wests Tigers fans for their support over the years. I hope I gave them plenty to cheer about. They have been very good to me.”
The 2009 Dally M winger of the year, Tuiaki was one of the most feared wingers in the NRL during his four-year career.
He scored 42 tries in 78 games for the Tigers, including a club record 21 tries in 22 games in season 2009.
He also represented New Zealand in four Tests.
Tuiaki’s retirement has opened the door for the return of former Bulldogs winger Matt Utai.
The 29-year-old has been named in the Tigers team for their trial match against North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night, despite not officially being on the club’s books.
But coach Tim Sheens has hinted that Utai would be given a chance if, as feared, Tuiaki was forced to call it quits.
Buford Balony says: Bad luck tank, we’ll miss you running over the top of other wingers.