The rugby league community has paid tribute to the career of Ashley Harrison after the Gold Coast veteran called time on his 15-year NRL career.
Harrison, who was set to retire at the end of the season, has brought his decision forward following a nerve injury in his neck.
The 33-year-old decided to hang up his boots immediately on Friday after medical advice suggested he would risk further damage by playing on.
He ends his career with 276 NRL appearances and 15 State of Origin games for Queensland, including being a member of the Maroons’ squad during their unprecedented eight-series winning streak.
Maroons fullback Billy Slater said none of the teams Harrison played in would have any reason to find fault with the versatile back-rower or five-eighth’s dedication.
“He was an integral part of what we have had over the last eight years in Queensland,” Slater said.
“He can certainly hold his head up high and be proud of what he’s achieved.
“He’s just one of those guys who goes about his business and works really hard for his teammates.
“And that’s what he’s like off the field. He’s a great guy and one that everyone would like to hang around.”
Harrison suffered a crack in one of the vertebra in his neck during the Titans’ round nine loss to South Sydney.
He made a quicker-than-expected recovery from that injury but a nerve injury early in his return game against Melbourne earlier this month forced an end to his career.
Titans’ coach John Cartwright said while it was an inappropriate way for Harrison to finish his playing days, there are plenty of reasons for his charge to be proud.
“You don’t get to pick how you’re going to finish,” Cartwright said.
“He deserved to go out with a premiership if that was possible.
“Having said that, if he looks back on nearly 15 seasons in the NRL, the highlights will far supersede any memory of how he finished.”
Harrison debuted with hometown club Brisbane in 2000 before stints at South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters.
He returned to Queensland with the Titans in 2008 and became an integral member of the club, playing 117 first grade games.
“I am truly grateful for the opportunities that the game has presented me and will forever be in debt to it,” Harrison said.
“A massive thank you goes to the Titans who brought me back home in 2008 and believed in my ability to get the job done. They are a big reason why I was able to represent my state at Origin level where some of my fondest memories were created.
“My priorities are now with my family; now is the time to put them first.”