Whatever the outcome of the North Queensland Cowboys’ 2012 season, Aaron Payne will retire with a proud record as a one-club player.
Rising 30, Payne has rendered outstanding service as the Cowboys’ hooker in a career that began in his home-town of Townsville in 2002.
A no frills performer at dummy-half, Payne achieved a career highlight in 2005 as the Cowboys made their charge to the grand final.
The premiership decider against the Wests Tigers might have ended in disappointment but it was a history-making achievement for the Cowboys and a coming of age for the club.
Payne became only the third player to reach the milestone of 200 NRL games for the Cowboys and will enter retirement second only to fullback Matt Bowen for games played for the club.
A Centrals Townsville junior, Payne was twice named Cowboys player of the year (2006 and 2008) and ranks as one of the most popular figures to wear the North Queensland jersey.
Payne will play his last regular season home game this Saturday at Dairy Farmers Stadium when the Cowboys play host to the Newcastle Knights. Depending on where the Cowboys finish in the Finals Series, this could be his last game infront of a home crowd.
Aaron Payne Stats:
|Born:||November 18, 1982, Brisbane, QLD (age 29)|
|Points:||101 (25 tries, 1 field goal)|
|First Grade Debut:||North Queensland v Dragons at Dairy Farmers Stadium, 1/6/2002 (Rd 12)|
|Club(s):||North Queensland 2002-12|
|Junior Football:||Centrals Townsville|
|Junior Rep Honours:||Queensland Under-19s 2001; Queensland Under-17s 1999|
|Grand Finals:||1 – North Queensland 2005 (L)|
|Other Information:||Cowboys player of the year 2006, 2008; Queensland Residents 2002|
Only one player has appeared in more first grade games for the Cowboys than Aaron Payne, and that is the player he has roomed with on away trips for the past decade, fullback Matt Bowen