From Macksville to Warrington for Inglis

Matt Encarnacion
Greg Inglis contemplated country football before announcing a return to play for Warrington

It was just over a year ago when Greg Inglis insisted he was retiring from rugby league because he couldn't perform at his best as a leader.

Now the South Sydney champion is preparing to re-write the final chapter of his career after making the shock decision to play in the English Super League next year.

Inglis on Tuesday night stunned the rugby league community by signing a one-year deal with Warrington for next season.

The seeds for his comeback were understood to have been planted last month following a conversation with former Rabbitohs teammate Jason Clark.

Clark now plies his trade with the Wolves under coach Steve Price, who currently boasts a line-up that includes Gareth Widdop and Blake Austin.

"I can't wait to get over there and play for a club that has so much rich heritage," Inglis said in a statement.

"I've played over in England many times in representative footy and love how passionate and vocal the supporters are.

"To get the opportunity to live in the UK, to play for such a powerhouse club that I believe is on the rise is something I'm looking forward to.

"And hopefully I can add value to the team."

Ex-Rabbitohs boss Shane Richardson revealed Inglis recently approached him about the possibility of a comeback.

Only it was with hometown club Macksville on the NSW far north coast.

"I said 'Macksville? I think you could do something a bit more high profile'," Richardson told rugbyleaguehub.com.

South Sydney were never an option, given the controversial circumstances around his exit last year.

Despite being dogged by a litany of knee and shoulder issues late in his career, Inglis declared in his retirement announcement that injuries weren't a factor.

"I've bounced back from many injuries before," he said at the time.

"It wasn't that. The way I see it, if I can't go out 100 per cent, I wouldn't be able to perform the best I can, that's what I expect of myself as a leader."

Because Inglis walked away from the final two of years of a lucrative contract, it freed up some serious money in the club's salary cap.

Inglis, who checked himself into rehab to address mental health issues last year, was able to recoup a portion of those lost earnings with an off-field club role.

He also had another option, with South Sydney owner Russell Crowe also believed to have made moves to bring Inglis to the Orara Valley Axemen.

Even before the coronavirus forced the shutdown of competitive football, the club hadn't entered a side in Group 2 this year due to low participation rates.

However plans were already afoot for Inglis to move far, far north.

The former Kangaroos and Queensland State of Origin captain last week signed with a new agent, Rich Digital, co-founded by Shane and his son Brent.

It was a sign of things to come.

Five days later, Inglis, who'll turn 34 next January, penned a deal to become the first player since John Skandalis to backflip on his retirement decision.

Skandalis, who, like Inglis battled knee injuries in the twilight of his career, did so twice.

The popular Wests Tigers prop ended up prolonging his career by two more years, almost reaching 250 games, including a memorable run to the 2015 finals.

"I remember there was a fair bit of fear there," Skandalis told AAP.

"Because you don't want to be that player who comes back, you're not playing well and you're remembered for that little stint you did and it wasn't the best.

"But once I was playing okay football I was pretty happy with myself. And you wouldn't want to write off a champion like 'GI' from doing the same."