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Bennett leads tributes for Tate

He has coached the greatest players of the past 30 years but Wayne Bennett has described Brent Tate as up there with the mentally toughest players he has ever had throughout his illustrious career.

Tate's body was finally given its orders to stop playing rugby league by medical staff after suffering a fourth ACL injury in Origin II earlier this year with the Queensland and Kangaroos great calling time on a career that spanned 14 seasons, 229 NRL games, 23 Origin matches and 26 Tests for the Kangaroos.

The announcement on Wednesday in Townsville brought forth a flood of well wishes and praise for the 32-year-old who has not only overcome three knee reconstructions but had his career put in jeopardy by a serious neck injury in just his second full season of first grade.

To reach the heights he has in subsequent years having gone through such gruelling rehabilitation is an accomplishment only those who have played the game at the highest level can truly appreciate and places him in rare company according to his former Broncos coach.

"His mental toughness is up there with anybody I've coached in that regard," Bennett said. "We all know about the four [anterior] cruciates that he tore and each one of those was absolute murder for him to come back because it doesn't get easier after you've done one of them and you've got to rehab. It's a pretty lonely place that rehab and he spent so much time there over the years but he did it properly and he always did it well and I'd say he did it without complaint but I suppose he had a few moments.

"He just showed mental toughness and then to come back and play the quality of football that he played as well, that's pretty outstanding stuff.

"He had a great love for the game. You couldn't have gone through what he went through and not had a great love of the game.

"I can't tell you how many private conversations we had over the years even when he went to other clubs, he always kept in touch. We were always close and he always kept in touch with me and we have a very close relationship and one built on trust with each other."

Petero Civoniceva was a teammate of Tate's at club, state and international level and said the fact that he was named man of the match in the third and deciding Origin of last year's historic eighth straight Series win by Queensland is testament to the man and his tenacity.

"That's a guy in his early 30s playing in the biggest arena with 30-odd of the best players in the world and to be voted as man of the match goes to show the impact that he has upon the game," said Civoniceva, who played alongside Tate for seven seasons at the Broncos.

"No tougher example of that than State of Origin football so there's a guy that's been through everything with his knees, neck and shoulder and everything else and comes up with a performance like that, that sums up Brent Tate."
Fellow 2014 retiree Ashley Harrison first played alongside Tate as teenagers playing for the Broncos Colts team in the Toowoomba A Grade competition and said that the nice guy off the field undergoes a metamorphosis before running out to play.

"It must be as soon as he pulls the jersey on. As soon as he gets that jersey on and gets that head on, the chin grows a little bit and he's ready to roll," Harrison said. 

"He's a special type of human, a special rugby league player and a great mate.

"'Tatey' was just always a million per cent player. Even from the younger days he would rip in every game for the whole game and you knew what you were going to get with Tatey.

"To go through what he went through with all those injuries you have to be a special type of human to bounce back from that. And he played for Australia after that as well so personally I reckon he should go down as one of the best centres in the game."

Cowboys football manager Peter Parr was integral in getting Tate to the club ahead of the 2011 season and said he played a big part in establishing a new culture in North Queensland.

"Not many people play 229 NRL games, or 26 Test matches, or 23 Origins, you don’t do that by fluke," Parr said.

"He was a wonderful player, he had a wonderful career, he’s got a wonderful family so I think there’s plenty to celebrate and I think that today’s about looking at the positives and it’s been one of the great careers in the modern game.

"At the end of 2010 we’d had a really poor year and we wanted to make some changes here and get back to playing finals football and in his four years here, we haven’t missed the finals and that’s no coincidence."
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