The heartbreak keeps coming for the Sydney Roosters, with Josh Morris the latest senior player to call time on his career.
Morris, 35, will follow his twin brother Brett and skippers Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend into retirement at the end of this season.
It has been an emotional few days for the Bondi club following the sickening, season-ending cheekbone injury suffered by Joey Manu.
Morris announced his decision on Monday in front of teammates, while family watched on via Zoom from Sydney where they remain in lockdown.
“I’ve thought long and hard about this decision. I’ve been enjoying my footy and love being around the team we have here at the Roosters, but I’m very comfortable that this is the right call,” Morris said.
Josh has played 322 games and is likely to return from a hamstring injury against the Raiders on Thursday night. He is set to slot straight into Manu’s right centre position.
Morris provided one of the most heartbreaking images of the year when he consoled tearful twin Brett in the McDonald Jones Stadium sheds back in round eight after he had suffered a career-ending knee injury.
Josh said about his brother earlier this year: “Without each other we wouldn’t have been half the players we are.”
“I’d like to single out one teammate in particular, my brother Brett,” Josh said. “To start and finish my career at the same club as Brett, and to share the memories we have is something I’ll always cherish.
Morris, unlike Brett, is yet to win a premiership, but will give his all the next month as the Roosters try to overcome one of the worst injury tolls in the club’s history.
The Roosters have several young centres rising through the ranks, including teen sensation Joseph Suaalii and Billy Smith. Both players are already part of the bulging Bondi casualty ward.
Coach Trent Robinson said: “It’s been a real joy to coach Josh over the last two seasons. To watch the way that he has gone about playing the game throughout his entire career is a reflection of the wonderful athlete and person that he is.
“Josh is one of the best of all time in his position, and his achievements, not only at club level, but also in the representative arena, deserve to be celebrated.”
Robinson will learn on Monday afternoon how much he will be fined for his post-match outburst on Friday night where he took aim at the referees and bunker official Henry Perenara for failing to come down harder on Latrell Mitchell after he flattened Manu.
The fact Mitchell was not sent off angered Robinson, who slammed the decision as “laughable and an absolute farce”.
Manu is expected to be discharged from a Brisbane hospital on Monday afternoon after undergoing surgery, and will remain up north with the playing group.
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Christian Nicolussi covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.