Wakefield Trinity Wildcats forward Glenn Morrison has been forced to call time on a playing career spanning 16 years due to injury.
The 35-year old suffered a seemingly innocuous training ground injury whilst coaching in the first week of pre-season and medical experts have confirmed worst fears that he has suffered a labral tear in his left shoulder as well as major damage to the joint capsule and bone damage that will require repairing by taking bone from his hip.
Morrison met with shoulder specialist, Professor Funk who explained that due to the extent of the injury and the major surgery that was required, he would have no option but to retire from playing, meaning he will now focus entirely on his role as Wildcats Assistant Coach.
Morrison made his first grade debut in 1996 with Balmain Tigers before joining the North Sydney Bears.
In 2000 he made the switch to North Queensland Cowboys, the club where he would spend the largest part of his career.
He was named the Cowboys Player and Players’ Player of the Year in 2001 and was part of the first Cowboys team to make the NRL play-offs in 2004.
Four appearances in Country of Origin and his form for the Cowboys saw Morrison attract interest from Parramatta Eels where he was named Player of the Year in the squad that won the NRL Minor Premiership in 2005.
In 2007 Morrison left the NRL for Super League and signed for Bradford Bulls where he was made Vice-captain and made an instant impression in his first campaign being named in the Super League Dream Team and winning the Telegraph & Argus Player of the Year as well as the coaches’ award, Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year titles.
He ultimately concluded his career at the Wildcats, winning the club’s Man of Steel Award in both of his two seasons, picking up the Players’ Player of the Year gong in 2010, captaining the club in his final year and representing the Exiles in the inaugural Origin match at Headingley Carnegie.
His final match was a win over former club Bradford Bulls at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium and Morrison admits the sudden nature of his enforced retirement is a difficult one to swallow.
“When I signed the new deal recently I still felt I had a good year or two in me,” said Morrison.
“I had a good year last year getting into the Exiles squad and winning the award at the end of season dinner.
“It’s hard to take that I don’t get to finish in my last game as I would have wanted to, but looking back on the game against Bradford it was a good win and it stopped us getting the wooden spoon so I’m pleased with that.”
Morrison says he will hang up his boots with plenty of good memories, none more so than his time captaining the Wildcats.
“You always remember your debut and I had a great time in the NRL. I was really excited to be coming to the UK and trying to win something,” he said.
“It didn’t work out quite like that but I enjoyed every minute and I’ve loved playing for and captaining Wakefield. I’d probably say that is one of my career highlights.
“I’ve had a lot of fun playing rugby league, met some great people and playing for so many great groups of supporters has made it all worthwhile.”
A model professional on and off the field, Morrison will pass on his wealth of experience in his capacity as Wildcats Assistant and under 20’s Coach, and says that having the coaching role will soften the blow slightly from his sudden retirement.
“I’m glad that I’ll be able to stay in rugby league with the coaching role and put all my energy into what is a new chapter of my life.
“Being around the boys in the last couple of weeks and not taking the hits or getting into pre-season has been strange to get used to. I loved the fitness side of playing, whacking people and getting whacked back.
“I’m still pretty shattered by what’s happened and it hasn’t really sunk in that I won’t be playing anymore. But I’ve had a great time over 16 seasons and I’ve loved every minute of it.
“I want to thank all the coaches, players and fans that have helped me so much throughout my career and a special thank-you to my family who have provided fantastic support to me through it all.”
Wildcats Chief Executive, James Elston paid tribute to Morrison’s contribution to the Wildcats and the game as a whole during his playing career.
“Glenn has been a fantastic professional and it’s a shame that his retirement has been forced on him in this way,” said Elston.
“Being a rugby league player is a lot more than just what you do on the pitch and Glenn is a fantastic role model for any young player in how to apply yourself at training and being an ambassador for the sport within the community.
“Coaching is something that he has been passionate about for a long time and we know that he’ll continue to make a big contribution to the club in his role as Assistant and under 20’s coach.”