Richie Fa'aoso's has announced his retirement following a neck injury suffered in last year's finals series. Credit: Robb Cox/NRL Photos Credit: Robb Cox/NRL Photos Copyright: Robb Cox/NRL Photos
Manly prop Richie Fa'aoso has formally retired from rugby league due to a fractured vertebrae suffered in the side's grand final qualifier against South Sydney last season.
The 29-year-old veteran of 11 NRL seasons had been hopeful of returning in 2014 (the final year of his current contract) but extensive tests showed the risks would be too great, according to a club statement.
"It's an unfortunate situation for Richie and his family," Sea Eagles general manager David Perry said.
"No-one wishes for the career of a player to be cut short, but regardless of who you are, a player's health and wellbeing will always remain the most important factor when a decision such as this is to be made."
He said the club and the NRL will continue to support Fa'aoso and his family with his rehabilitation and life after football, including assisting him with suitable education courses.
"On behalf of all Sea Eagles members, supporters, fans and staff, I'd like to thank and congratulate Richie for his commitment and achievements to our club and the game of rugby league."
After debuting in 2004 for the Panthers, Fa'aoso played 155 NRL games for Penrith, Sydney Roosters, Parramatta, Newcastle, Melbourne (where he won a premiership in 2012) and Manly, as well as 25 Super League games for Castleford and 10 Tests for Tonga.
"It's very disappointing and unfortunate, but I feel blessed to have played with the people I have over so many years," Fa'aoso said in a statement.
"I've had many highs and lows in my career and I'm extremely grateful for the opportunities the game of rugby league has given to me. I want to thank the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, and in particular, my family and friends, who have supported me throughout my entire career."
Sea Eagles coach Geoff Toovey said it was upsetting for Fa'aoso's career to end this way after being an integral part of the side's march to the grand final in 2013.
The loss of Fa'aoso is a further blow to the Sea Eagles who had already lost fellow props Brent Kite (Panthers), George Rose (Melbourne), Joe Galuvao (retirement) and David Gower (Parramatta) and will be relying on a number of young recruits and up-and-comers to fill the front row void in 2014.