Former Cowboy of the Year Ash Graham will have wrist reconstructive surgery next week, ending his chances of a return to the playing field in the NRL.
The winger confirmed today he had played his last match for North Queensland after deciding to retire from rugby league following a 202-game career with the Cowboys and Parramatta.
He has played 161 top-grade matches for North Queensland, the fifth highest figure in the club’s history, and won the Paul Bowman Medal as the club’s Player of the Year in 2011.
The 29-year-old was the equal top try-scorer in the NRL last year and finishes his career with 102 tries.
Graham initially suffered his wrist injury in the pre-season trial match against the Gold Coast Titans in Mackay in February and the ligament damage has worsened with time, forcing him to make the decision to have surgery.
The usual recovery time following the operation is around six months.
He has also continued to battle with chronic ankle arthritis, requiring him to be on a modified training program.
The combination of the injuries has restricted him to 14 matches in his final year.
“It’s a shame to end up the season early but unfortunately it can’t be avoided,” Graham said today.
“I’m finishing up my career content with what I’ve achieved.
“I think I’ve got as much out of my body as I can.”
Cowboys general manager – football Peter Parr said Graham’s professionalism was a hallmark of his career.
“Ash has a long list of achievements, including finishing his sports science degree this year, and deserves plenty of credit for them. He’s had an outstanding career,” Parr said.
“As a player, what we’ll remember most about him was how he always did everything possible to get the best performance he could out of himself and his ability to get the ball over the line when a try didn’t seem possible.
“He’s provided some of our club’s most memorable moments over the last seven seasons.”
Johnson will also not play again in 2013 after rupturing his ACL last month.