St George Illawarra are set for a shake up of their spine after veteran hooker Andrew McCullough called time on his 13-year NRL career.
McCullough spent the off-season weighing up his future, having declared at the end of round 25 that he wanted to see out the final year of his contract and he was far from done.
But the 32-year-old eventually decided to hang up his boots, telling Dragons teammates he will not play on.
The dummy-half, who also played for Brisbane and Newcastle, was one of only two current NRL players to have run out in more than 300 games, having reached 309 at the end of last season. James Tamou is on 305 games.
McCullough was also Queensland's State of Origin hooker during the 2018 series and for one game in 2021, after earning a reputation as one of the game's most reliable and serviceable No.9s.
McCullough will now move into an off-field role at the Dragons.
"Andrew has been a big part of the Dragons for the past two seasons, and a wonderful servant to the game over a very long period," Dragons CEO Ryan Webb said.
"While it's sad to see him retire, the time was right for him to move into his post-playing career.
"Due to his knowledge of the sport and standing in the game, we are looking to keep Macca involved in the club in an off-field role and we'll be able to announce more details of that soon."
McCullough's retirement could prompt a quicker transition than expected in the Dragons' spine.
The Dragons have signed Jacob Liddle from Wests Tigers, with he and Moses Mbye both options to slot in at No.9.
Jayden Sullivan spent some time at dummy-half last year, but has made clear to the Dragons he wants to develop into the club's long-term halfback.
That clarity around the No.7 jersey in the long run was at the heart of the 21-year-old's decision to retract a request for release from the club last month.
One option could be for Ben Hunt to shift to hooker and Sullivan to assume the No.7 jersey, given the Queenslander has starred at dummy-half in State of Origin.
However Hunt ran second in the Dally M Medal race last year and it's expected he would prefer to stay at halfback, with Sullivan making clear this week he was happy to learn off the club captain.