He still feels it’s ended too soon but Brent Tate says he can’t be anything but proud of his career after announcing he’s retiring from rugby league.
By his own admission Brent Tate’s NRL retirement has been coming for the best part of a decade.
Victim of a near career-ending neck injury in 2003 and three knee reconstructions following that, Tate knows he’s been on borrowed time for a while now.
On Wednesday, following medical advice after a fourth serious knee injury suffered in this year’s State of Origin series, Tate finally brought an end to a gutsy and successful 13-year career.
The bare numbers are impressive enough – 229 games for three NRL clubs, one premiership, 26 Tests and 23 State of Origin appearances for his beloved Queensland.
To get there however, the 32-year-old has had to endure a journey which makes his tale so much more than raw stats.
“That’s what makes me feel okay with everything,” Tate told AAP.
“It could have ended a lot earlier. I think I was only 23, 24, maybe even younger at the time when that neck happened so it could’ve been a lot worse.
“I’ve been able to play 10 years or so years after that.”
Tate’s courage was never more evident than in 2011 when he made his third comeback from a knee reconstruction.
Not only did Tate return to the game but, for the third time in his career, he was able to regain a spot in the Queensland and Australia teams following a serious injury.
It also meant Tate got to be a part of the Maroons’ remarkable run of Origin dominance, eventually having a hand in five of Queensland’s eight series wins in a row.
“To be able to come back and play the way I did, I was really proud of that,” Tate said.
“After the third knee I actually thought I was done. I never, ever thought in my wildest dreams I was going to be able to play rep footy again.
“To get back there was awesome, I loved it … it’s a piece of rugby league history.”
Tate, who has found a home in Townsville following his move to North Queensland in 2011, will remain with the Cowboys in an off-field role.
And he feels he leaves the game in a good way, happy that players are being well cared for both on and off the field.
“I love the game and I think the game’s in great shape,” he said.
“Obviously you’re going to have hiccups here and there but I think on a whole our game really understands the responsibility we’ve got to our fans, to our sponsors and to all our families now.
“It’s come a long way. The game is played in a really safe manner.
“It’s just been awesome to be a part of it and when I speak to people I’m really proud to say I’m an NRL player … it’s a real badge of honour.”
BRENT TATE’S NEVER-SAY-DIE RUGBY LEAGUE CAREER
NRL appearances: 229 (81 tries)
Clubs: Brisbane (2001-07), Warriors (2008-10), North Queensland (2011-14)
Tests: 26 (2002-08, 2010, 2013)
State of Origin matches: 23 (2002-04, 2006-08, 2012-14)
* Premiership winner 2006
* Tri-Nations winner 2006