Family comes first as Plum retires
It was an innocuous bump to the head at the captain's run before the Panthers' 24-10 win over the Warriors that proved the final straw for Nigel Plum, who announced his immediate retirement following his 150th NRL game on Saturday evening.
While the 32-year-old former Raider and Rooster had copped his fair share of concussions previously, the one suffered against the Raiders back in Round 20 was one he couldn't shake off like the ones he'd had previously.
It's why the incident at training this week was taken so seriously by Plum. Putting family before football, he decided the night before playing the Warriors to pull up stumps.
"I had a massive concussion last year up in Newcastle and I recovered quickly because I remember on the bus home I had a Maccas family meal as per normal, but after the latest one I had headaches all night," Plum said.
"Every time I sneezed and coughed for the next four days after it, I had pressure on my head and on both sides and I knew it was worse than what had happened before. All I could think about was my family. They come first in my life.
"After I passed all the cognitive tests I wanted to finish the last few games off. But I had a little head clash at training [on Friday]. It wasn't much at all. It was a little tap and it stung me for five seconds. I was sweet from it but it made me realise that what could happen in the game was a hell of a lot worse so I just knew it was time.
"When it comes down to it, my health is the most important thing. If I went out and played past this game and got another knock like I did there the other week, I'd be pretty disappointed in myself so I've made the right decision."
Expressing his relief about how his time in the NRL had come to an end, Plum went on to add how proud he is of his achievements – especially considering the amount of injuries and surgeries he's had as well as his day-to-day battle with Crohn's Disease.
"It's hard to put into words, what it means to me, what I've achieved. I've achieved everything I can in the game on a personal level and I'm really happy with that," Plum said.
"I don't really care how people want to remember me. That's one thing about me I don't really care [about], what people think of me. I'm happy with what I do and I'm happy with the person I am. I guess that's what makes me the person I am.
"I'm happy I managed to play out a successful career and to get to the [150 game] milestone that I did, it's a massive achievement for me."
Plum said he owed his wife Nicole a lot for the career he'd managed to pave for himself.
"What she's had to put up with over the years, it's pretty amazing she's still with me," Plum laughed.
"The amount of times she's had to look after me on the lounge following an operation – I think I'm up to 13 or 14 operations now – and look after the household has been great.
"The support she has for me is unbelievable so I love her to bits and I can't thank her enough."