Veteran St George Illawarra Dragons forward Trent Merrin has stunned rugby league fans after announcing a snap retirement from the game, effective immediately.
The former NSW State of Origin and Kangaroos Test lock has played his last game in the NRL after confirming the news on Wednesday.
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Merrin told Dragons teammates and officials of his decision on Wednesday, pulling the curtain closed on a 13-year career across both Australia and England.
The move comes just days before the Dragons lock horns with the Sydney Roosters in the traditional ANZAC Day clash.
An agile forward when at his best, Merrin played 13 games for NSW and was part of the state's drought-breaking success in 2014.
He also played seven Tests for Australia to go with his 223 NRL games, before making the surprise decision to walk away.
"I'm very happy to be able to finish my career on my own terms," Merrin said.
"This was a decision where I had to be true to myself. I have outgrown the game and the game has outgrown me.
"My appreciation for rugby league will never die."
The Dragons were quick to thank Merrin for his service to the club, describing the 31-year-old as a "legend" of the Red V.
After debuting as a local junior at the Dragons in 2009, he was part of their premiership-winning side the following year.
The lock then left for Penrith at the end of 2015, before spending a year in the Super League with Leeds and returning to the Dragons last year.
“My dream growing up was always to play for the Dragons, a club I have always held in high esteem. I have achieved everything my younger self ever wanted and that is something I’ll always be grateful for.
“I wouldn’t have been able to achieve everything I have without my family and the sacrifices they made. They, alongside my beautiful fiancee and baby boy, have been there throughout the highs and lows of my career.
“They also rode the wave of emotion when it came to this decision to conclude a wonderful career. I’m keen to see the younger players step up in my place as the Dragons continues its exciting journey.”
Dragons coach Anthony Griffin says Merrin's presence and experience will be "sorely missed" at the club.
“I had the privilege of coaching Trent across four seasons of his career. He’s a tremendous team man and will be sorely missed throughout the playing group,” Griffin said.
“Trent has accomplished everything there is to do in rugby league and leaves behind a great legacy as a premiership winner with St George Illawarra.”
Tributes to the workhorse forward immediately started streaming in social media at the news of his imminent retirement.
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