Newcastle Knights veteran Nathan Ross has spoken confirmed he needs to retire from the NRL immediately.
The 30-year-old has been forced to medically retire from the game after four seasons in the top grade and 60 first grade games.
“I go through waves of emotions,” Ross said.
“I’ve felt sad, angry, disappointed and proud. I’m proud of what I accomplished and happy for the friendships I’ve made.
“This groin and pelvic injury has been plaguing me.
“It got to a stage where I couldn’t get out of my car, struggled to walk and pick up my kids without pain. This decision is about putting my health and my family first.
“Debuting late at the age of 27, I tried to cram in as much as I could. I knew my rugby league window was closing. To be able to play as many games as I did in a short period of time was great. I have some moments now that should stay around forever which my kids should be proud of.”
Newcastle Knights CEO Philip Gardner said the story of Ross’s career is one which should inspire anyone with a dream.
“Nathan is a real personality and a true ambassador of this club," Gardner said. “His story is one of hard work and self-belief. Not only did he fight his way through the local ranks, but he proved plenty of knockers wrong along the way.
“It’s a credit to him and his family for refusing to take no for an answer and demonstrates the power of self-belief. He is a character, so it comes as no surprise that he is a fan favourite.
"We are very disappointed to lose him, particular to lose him to a career-ending injury but we wish he and his family nothing but the best for the future.”
Ross made his NRL debut for the Knights against St George Illawarra in Round 21 of the 2015 season, scoring a try in his first outing.
He would go on to make his representative debut in 2017 when he pulled on the City Origin jumper. It is these two moments Ross looks back on fondly.
“I was able to debut with my best friend Lachlan Fitzgibbon. Not too many rugby league players can say that,” Ross said.
“Playing representative football for City Country. It wasn’t a bench role. I was a genuine representative player. They are my two highlights.
“I’m disappointed I never got to play finals football for the Club in first grade.
“But you don’t always get everything you want.”
Able to play wing, fullback and centre, the man affectionately known to the fans as ‘Ross Dog’ is a crowd favourite.
“It’s been humbling how much all the fans have taken me in,” he continued.
“There’s a little girl who paints her face, Lilly, who has a shirt which reads ‘Ross Dog’s number one fan’. It has a photo of us on the front. Her and her family have been amazing.
“After losses, people would still make signs and want to give you hugs. I want to thank them for making the journey easier.”
Ross informed his teammates of his decision on Tuesday morning in what was a difficult moment for the outside back.
“I let a couple of my close friends in the squad know what was going on early in the piece and they have supported me through it.
“For the past 26 years rugby league is all I’ve known all my life. Telling the boys was really tough.
“I held myself together which was good because I have played this conversation out in my head several times over the past month. It’s disappointing that I can’t go out on my own terms but it’s good that I was able to achieve a lot in such a short period and touch a lot of people.
“I want to thank everyone who played a role in my career from a junior level through to my seniors.
“There are so many people to thank in the local league and at the Knights.
“From everyone in the office, coaching and performance staff, my teammates and finally, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my partner Nikea and my children, Willow and Ziah.”
Ross is now looking forward to transitioning into life after football.
“I’d love to continue my work in the media,” Ross said. “I have been working with the Tanya and Steve Show on Triple M and would love to do more with them.
“If the media pathway doesn’t pan out, I have a background in mining. The mining industry was great to me before rugby league and I still have a strong connection with NSW mining.”