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Yow Yeh will 'go forward in life'

Broncos star Jharal Yow Yeh says he "wasn't going to cut it" in the NRL, retiring at age 24 after battling to overcome a chronic ankle injury.

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On the good days, Jharal Yow Yeh would imagine he was still one of the brightest prospects in rugby league, a brilliant winger who had represented his state and country by the age of 22.

But when reality bit, as it often did during the long, painful rehab from an horrific ankle injury suffered in 2012, the Brisbane Broncos star was starting to realise the fight against his own body was never going to end in his favour.

The speed wasn’t going to return, the side-step was never going to be the same. Yow Yeh’s body had fundamentally changed and so has his mental state. Last week, he decided to finally relent, retiring from the NRL and the Broncos at just 24 years of age.

Career shattered: Jharal Yow Yeh breaks his leg against Souths.

Career shattered: Jharal Yow Yeh breaks his leg against Souths. Photo: Getty Images

“I have been struggling in my head, trying to get my head around playing rugby league again. The decision was made last week for me, when I talked to Hook (coach Anthony Griffin) and my family and friends,” Yow Yeh said on Monday.

“I’m happy this is off my back, the pressure is not there. I feel comfortable. I thank the Broncos for sticking by me. I’ve been here for a while and have been very humbled to put the jersey on.”

Yow Yeh’s broken ankle was one for the record books. Not only did it shatter against South Sydney during a match in Perth, the bones protruded from the skin. The damage was so significant there was concern even at the early stages that his career could be over.

To his credit, he defied doctors and medical staff, many of whom believed Yow Yeh would never return to the field. He managed to make a return via the Intrust Super Cup but the hill to the NRL would prove too steep to climb.

In the end, it was his call. By last week, he felt he had exhausted every possibility in his efforts to once again become an elite athlete in the NRL. The time had come.

“I wanted to give myself every chance of playing first grade again. I knew, deep down inside, that I had it in me mentally but not physically. It was a fact that my ankle just doesn’t want to agree with me anymore,” he said.

“But in a weird way, this has been one of the best things that has happened to me. I met my girlfriend through this injury, I’ve made some really good friends outside of rugby league, I’ve done a lot of things outside of football that I’ve loved.

“I gave it all. That’s all I can really do.”

Yow Yeh came to Brisbane via the Norths Devils and exploded onto the NRL scene. He scored 27 tries in the 2008 NYC competition and made his debut in the top grade the first game of the following season.

By 2011, he was picked for Australia, then Origin the same year for the Maroons. He would represent each of those sides on three occasions.

But injury would intervene and the flame would be snuffed out. At Red Hill, flanked by chief executive Paul White and coach Griffin, Yow Yeh made the most gracious of exits.

The entire playing group gave him a standing ovation one last time as he left the building.