Representing the Indigenous All Stars was one of many achievements in Jharal Yow Yeh's all-too-short career. Copyright: Charles Knight/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
He may be still coming to grips with the fact that his football career is officially over but Preston Campbell has urged Jharal Yow Yeh to consider adding his name to the growing number of retired players to have joined the ranks of the referees.
Yow Yeh announced his retirement from rugby league on Monday morning at just 24 years of age with tributes soon flooding in for the talented winger who played for the Broncos, Queensland and the Kangaroos all before his 22rd birthday.
It's almost two years since Yow Yeh suffered a sickening ankle injury described by doctors as among the worst they had seen in their time in the game and after a dozen operations and numerous complications it was an injury to his other ankle that proved the final straw.
Broncos CEO Paul White and coach Anthony Griffin both indicated their willingness to see the inspirational Yow Yeh remain at Red Hill in some capacity but Campbell, an Indigenous All Stars teammate of Yow Yeh's in the inaugural match in 2010, suggested that refereeing is one of many avenues open to him.
"We need to rally behind him. His career in rugby league as a player has been cut short but that doesn't he can't join another area in rugby league," said Campbell, who now works in the Titans for Tomorrow program and is an NRL One Community ambassador.
"There are so many different areas... being a referee, not too much contact in refereeing these days.
"I don't know whether he'd like to see himself on the other side of the fence but we've had a few players that have gone across of late and they've really opened the gate for retired players or ex players to maybe become referees.
"Henry [Perenara] and Luke [Phillips] have done really well for themselves but it's not just that, he could be a coach, he could be a trainer or anything like that. There's always going to be a spot for him there."
Campbell was shattered when NRL.com broke the news of Yow Yeh's retirement to him and that such a promising career had been cut short after just 60 first grade games, three Origins for Queensland and three Tests for Australia, where he scored a try in each Test appearance.
"He was an Australian winger, Queensland winger, and with the Broncos with the way they were heading could have been a premiership winner," said Campbell. "It's just a shame that Jharal's at such a young age and I think anyone that's had to pull up stumps early... it's just cruel.
"Even though it has been short he's still had a pretty good career. To represent your state and your country, that's nothing to be shy at.
"I don't think I've met a bloke who smiles as much as he does. Even when he was going through a tough time he always kept his chin up and really smiled.
"Unfortunately I'd say I probably didn't spend as much time as I'd have liked to [during his layoff] but there's still an opportunity for that. I might see him around the traps a little bit more now and I'm sure if he needs anything done I personally will do my best to help him out."