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Boyd Cordner has broken down in tears after calling time on his rugby league career during an emotional press conference on Monday.
Cordner becomes the third high-profile Sydney Roosters player to retire in 2021 - forced out of the NRL because of repeated concussions.
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The Roosters, NSW and Australia Test captain struggled to come to terms with the magnitude of the situation in a heartbreaking address to media in Sydney.
“As you all know the past six months has been a really challenging time in my life in regards to my head knocks and my health,” Cordner said.
“Not at any stage did I think I’d be up here today announcing that this will be it for me. All I ever wanted to do was to get back and play the game I love, and for the club I love.
“I’m at a stage now where I’m doing really well. I’m fine, I’ve been back at training with the team full time for a while now, I was getting ready and prepared to play in a couple weeks’ time.
“I felt really good while I was at training, I was training really hard. Away from footy, when I was at home it was a different story for me. I felt a different way.
“I knew that’s a natural feeling to come off what I experienced at the end of last year... it was like my heart was telling me I wanted to play on, and I was doing everything I possibly could, but my mind and my head was telling me otherwise, it was dragging me the other way.
“They didn’t align at the end of the day. It would have been me physically prepared but mentally just crossing my fingers, and I don’t think that was safe at all.
“For once in my life and my career I had to put my own health and happiness first. It was an extremely tough decision for me to make.
“I spent hours and hours and sleepless nights trying to find a way for me to brush it aside and to play on.”
Cordner troubled by concussions
The 29-year-old hasn't played since sustaining a head knock during the opening game of the 2020 State of Origin series.
Cordner returned to the field in that game but took no further part in the series, won by Queensland.
He stepped away from the game to consider his future but the Roosters had been upbeat about a round 14 NRL return for their inspirational skipper.
That comeback date passed in the Roosters' heart-stopping 35-34 win over the Gold Coast on Saturday with speculation that Cordner's comeback had been put on hold.
Cordner joins former club co-captain Jake Friend in retirement in 2021 because of concussion issues.
The Roosters have also farewelled Brett Morris this season after a career-ending knee injury.
Cordner's call marks a cruel end to a decorated career.
One of the most reliable players in the game, Cordner figured in premierships with the Roosters in 2013, 2018 and 2019.
He also led NSW to Origin series victories in 2018 and 2019 and took over as Kangaroos Test captain in 2018.
Cordner still had two years to run on his Roosters contract but will instead end with 181 games for the foundation club, 20 matches for the Kangaroos and 16 Origins for NSW.
It also comes as another brutal blow to the injury-hit Roosters who are also without representative stars Luke Keary and Lindsay Collins with long-term injuries.
Cordner's medical retirement has been cleared by the NRL, according to media reports.
League world pays tribute to great champion
His decision to walk away from the game on health grounds comes as the NRL launches a crackdown on head-high tackles.
'Shattered' fans were quick to pay their respects to the champion player after his heartbreaking retirement announcement
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