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Brisbane Broncos captain Alex Glenn has been reduced to tears during an emotional press conference on Thursday to confirm his retirement from the NRL.
Glenn is set to bow out of Australian rugby league after 13 seasons and 282 games, with only club greats Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker and Darren Lockyer having played more games in the NRL than the one-club veteran.
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After pondering it all season, the 33-year-old made retirement official on Thursday, addressing a room packed with players, staff, media, his partner and their three children.
A premiership alluded him - Glenn played in the 2015 decider which they lost in extra time to North Queensland - but he said there was plenty to celebrate after coming "from nothing" as a boy in Auckland.
"It's been 14 years I've been putting my body on the line for this club," he said as tears welled up in his eyes.
"I didn't win a premiership but I think my journey ... speaks more value than a ring that'll go on my finger, apart from my marriage one."
— Brisbane Broncos (@brisbanebroncos) August 19, 2021
Glenn debuted as a 20-year-old and has won the Broncos' Kevin Walters Award for most consistent player a record five times.
In a lovely moment, the Broncos veteran was overcome with emotion after reserving a special thank you to his wife Jemma for supporting him throughout his career.
“From the bottom of my heart, Jem, I just want to say a big thank you,” he said.
“Thank you for supporting me each and every step of the way. Thank you for being the best mother my kids could ever have.
“I couldn’t be the person I am here, thank you for allowing me to do what I do and be the best person that I can be for this club.”
Handed the captaincy by former coach Anthony Seibold last year, a string of injuries meant he managed just eight games in 2020 as the Broncos collected their first wooden spoon.
They sit second last with just five wins from 21 games this season, but have shown signs of life in recent weeks.
"I'm competing as hard as I can but the weekly struggle is getting harder and harder," he said of his decision to retire.
"On my days off I was spending more time recovering and not being there for my kids and that was a big factor, not being the dad I could be.
"I know I'm still competing well. But could I do it for one more year? Probably not and I didn't want to be the player that hung on too long."
Injury at age 16 threatened to end Alex Glenn's career
Glenn's career came close to ending when he was just 16 years old after being told by a physiotherapist that his back was in such a fragile state that one bad tackle could leave him in a wheelchair.
He stopped playing rugby league for three years as a result, abandoning childhood dreams of becoming a professional athlete until Wayne Bennett surprised the then-house painter with a phone call.
Glenn hung up on what he thought was a prank call from a Burleigh Bears teammate, but Bennett called back.
"I was balling my eyes out, football was everything I knew," he said of the call to stop playing as a promising teenage talent.
"To step back from something you love was a hard decision, but what's more important, of course your health.
"And I don't think I ever would have played these games if I didn't take that break ... it was a blessing in disguise."
Glenn's retirement will leave Walters on the hunt for a new captain to begin his second year at the helm.
The veteran forward vouched for Patrick Carrigan, who has deputised for him over the last two seasons, while Payne Haas has emerged as a pack general with premiership-winning halfback Adam Reynolds arriving from South Sydney as a ready-made leader next season.
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