Rugby League

Former Raider Joe Picker retires content after playing part in Souths' premiership

He's just won an NRL premiership at South Sydney but Joe Picker has hung up the boots despite admitting he could have played on at the Rabbitohs next season.

Picker has turned down the chance to be part of Souths' premiership defence in favour of shearing at his family's Bigga property and a start with the Goulburn Bulldogs. 

Joel Picker played 12 games at South Sydney this year.
Joel Picker played 12 games at South Sydney this year. Photo: Anthony Johnson

It's far removed from the week-long celebrations at Redfern after the grand final defeat of Canterbury, and playing alongside the likes of Greg Inglis and Sam Burgess. 

The back rower played 12 games at Souths this year after being offloaded by Canberra after 110 games with the Raiders, but said it was time to move on. 

The back rower played 110 games with the Raiders from 2007-13.
The back rower played 110 games with the Raiders from 2007-13. Photo: Getty Images

"I suppose I had the option to stay, but I was just ready to retire," the 26-year-old said. 

"It wasn't the way I wanted to finish [at Canberra] last year, but I found another team and this year is just a bonus. 

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"I've wanted to do it [go back to the farm] for 10 years, I can't wait to get out of the city. 

"As I said to someone the other day, not everyone retires when you're 33.

"It was a good week, a lot of partying. I can't complain."

Picker farewelled the game with a lap of honour with other retiring players before the grand final. 

His wife Naomi is expecting their first child in January, and will join younger brothers Ben and Mick at Goulburn, who made the Canberra Raiders Cup grand final this year. 

Souths assistant coach Wayne Collins described Picker as "a great asset" and invaluable for the club when back rowers Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o were away on Queensland Origin duty. 

"He's been a great asset to us, to be honest, a really good footballer but also an awesome guy," Collins said. 

"Just to have that sort of depth in your squad is important during rep footy, it's great cover for us and plays an important part in your year. 

"They were all in the [victory] photo up on stage and on the bus back to [Souths] juniors, it's not just the 17 it's a squad that wins it."

Picker said he will always remember the grand final heroics of Burgess, who played on with a broken cheekbone and eye socket sustained in the opening tackle of the game. 

"It's probably the toughest thing I've seen, he's a machine," Picker said. 

"It's a shame the game's losing him."