After sixteen seasons at the top, Todd Payton retires.
The Manly Sea Eagles emerged victorious from the 2011 NRL season two weeks ago, but for 25 players it was the end of their playing days.
Alongside some of the biggest names in the game, like as Darren Lockyer, Mark Gasnier, Preston Campbell, and Andrew Ryan, Todd Payton, 32, was part of the largest group of retiring NRL players the game had seen in a while.
The West Tigers front-rower stated that it was a busy week saying goodbye, despite the high number of retirees and attention on one of the greatest players of all time, Darren Lockyer.
“You know, I got to catch up with all the guys that I’ve had some interaction with, so it was a wonderful week.
In previous years, the number of players who retired was limited to 12, but this year, as you mentioned, I believe there are 25, and many of those players have been around for a long time. In addition to being fantastic athletes, many of them are also excellent guys who should continue to play.”
Growing up in the Riverina town of Temora, the big prop always dreamed of playing at the highest level. Little did he know that his 16 years at the top would take a physical toll on him. Along the way, he would play 259 games with three different clubs (Canberra Radiers ’96-’02; Sydney Roosters ’03; West Tigers ’04-’11)
I was fortunate to have accomplished that goal at a young age. I simply aimed to get that first game out of the road. As you are aware, I had no intention of staying in the game for so long.
However, he added, “I had a great time and would have liked to continue, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
“I went in for an end-of-season bit of a cleanup last year because I had a little soreness in my knee. It was okay. My doctor mentioned that I had a significant amount of joint arthritis.
For this year, I was in there bone on bone. got really difficult to train, you know, and training became extremely unpleasant, which made playing even more difficult. Toward the end, things were difficult and a little less pleasurable,” acknowledges Payton.
“I had a year contracted and just decided that it was no way to finish my career, better off to make the decision to retire a bit earlier than having to go through that again” Payton stated.
The former Temora Dragon will rejoin the West Tigers in 2019 as their Under 20 team’s coach, despite having retired from the NRL.