Rugby League


Retiring prop Brett White to bid farewell ''a happy footballer''

 Canberra Raiders prop Brett White will farewell the game a "happy footballer" in the knowledge egos have been replaced by a team-first culture he backed to rebuild the club. 

White, who will play his 196th and last NRL game against Parramatta on Saturday, admitted retiring after the tumultuous 2013 season may have had an adverse psychological effect on him.

While wins have been rare, he described helping lead Canberra's youthful squad this year as one of his more enjoyable seasons in a stellar career which yielded three Tests for Australia, eight Origins with NSW and four grand finals with Melbourne. 

The 32-year-old will return from two weeks out with a groin injury to say goodbye at Canberra Stadium, and will co-captain with Jarrod Croker. 

"Last year with everything that went on, I don't know how it would have been retiring after a year like that, I think it would have had a negative effect on me for years after," he said. 

"I thought about playing next year but I can finish content, it means a lot for me finishing in a good head space. 


"This young group coming through are going to be successful because they're willing to listen and learn, and the egos have been put aside. 

"It's so easy these day for young guys to have a good time and they're entitled to, but they've been smart about it and put the club first.

"That's why it's been such an enjoyable year as a leader of these young guys."

The Raiders team which beat the Tigers last week had an average age of 23, and the squad will likely be even younger next season. 

White's departure, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs' move to the Storm and uncertainty over skipper Terry Campese's future will further drain the squad's experience. 

He insisted there won't be a leadership void and backed Croker, captain for the two matches, and Shaun Fensom to step up to the plate. 

"They're young in age but they're a few years into their career, around that time is when you stand up as a leader," White said. 

"Midway through the year Ricky [Stuart, coach] really started to push those blokes along to learn how to do that. 

"It does take a while to be able to stand up and say things to the group, whether it be good or bad. 

"We're in pretty good hands having those blokes in leadership roles, they're both quality people and that's the most important thing."

White readily acknowledged he was never the most talented footballer, but that made achieving virtually everything in the game more satisfying. 

He wants to be remembered as a clubman, a leader and a player who squeezed every drop out of his ability. 

"I'm looking at Saturday really as a celebration," he said. 

"I come from a small country town [Cooma] and never had a lot of skill coming up through the grades. 

"I was never a kid who stood out, but with determination and work ethic I've been able to forge an NRL career.

"I don't know how to feel about it, obviously there's sadness, there's nerves, there's excitement a new chapter [has arrived]."

Fittingly it was White's club-first mentality which brought him to the Raiders. 

White didn't want to leave Melbourne, which was forced to offload players after the salary cap scandal which saw them stripped of two premierships, but White selflessly took the bullet. 

"To their credit the club said they wouldn't ask anyone to go, but they did say if players could be in a better-off situation [elsewhere] you'd be helping us out," White said. 

"If I can help my club out, I will. That was a big part of that decision, and one of the toughest I've had to make in my career. 

"I've always prided myself on being a club person and never thought I'd leave Melbourne, but it's been a good thing. 

"I'm looking to settle here and hopefully as I go into the next part of my life I've really benefitted from coming here."

White will remain involved at the Raiders in an off-field capacity, with the details of his role yet to be confirmed.

"I said to Ricky if I do retire I want to be a part of it," White said. 

"This young group coming through are going to be successful because they're willing to listen and learn, and the egos have been put aside.

"Where the club was at the end of last year, it was important to build a culture of guys willing to put the club first.

"Everyone talks about the 'big three' of Melbourne, but it's built on culture. Ricky has the right foundations in place, and that's where success comes from. 

"I just want to hang on for the ride."


Age: 32

NRL games: 195 (127 for Melbourne; 68 for Canberra)

Representative honours: Three Tests Australia, Three Tests Ireland, Eight Origin games for NSW. 

First grade debut: Melbourne v Newcastle, round 11 2005

Canberra debut: Cronulla in round one 2011