Priddle to retire after final
THERE will be no cameo appearances from Steve Priddle in the future.
Tomorrow's Central Queensland Rugby Union A-grade grand final against University will be the Dawson Valley skipper's last hurrah for the club he has been involved with for the past 14 years.
"I am going to say that this is it, I won't be playing any more rugby - I don't think my body would cope if I did come back and play the odd game," Priddle said.
The time was right for the 31-year-old, who played both 19s and reserve grade football before earning his stripes in A-grade, to hang up his boots and put his growing family and work commitments on top of his priority list.
"I have been playing for 14 years without a break. It's time to pass the mantle on," the electrical planner for QR National said.
Never one to do things half-heartedly, the hard-tackling No. 8 said with less time on his hands, he could not invest as much effort into the team as he would like, to remain playing at this level.
Also retiring this season are Drover's vice-captains Ask Kirk and Matt Noller, along with Cam McDouall.
Kirk has also been with Drovers for 14 years, while McDouall has spent six years at the club, and Matt Noller has done a three year stint. Losing such experience and leadership within a team at one time would usually cause some anxiety, but both Priddle and long-serving coach Jack Wright agreed this was as good as time as any for the players to leave.
Priddle, who had spent so long at the Drovers' helm he lost track of when he was first made captain, said he and a few of the older guys in the team had taken on leadership roles in recent years.
Drovers last won a grand final in 2004, and after losing the final to Frenchville in 2005, close to 10 players retired leaving Wright and club stalwarts such as Priddle and Kirk to help rebuild the club, mentor young troops and set standards within the team.
Priddle is hopeful their recent hard work will pay off in the grand final, so he and the other retiring players can leave on a high note.
Regardless of what happens tomorrow at Rugby Park, Priddle's memories of Drovers will remain vivid.
"The last two years have been pretty special, winning the minor premiership both this year and last, and making two grand finals (last year Drovers lost to Colts by two points).
"But it's the mates and friendships you make - that's the reason you play footy," he said.