Jack Reed's parting gift to Broncos
He may have played his last game but Jack Reed will continue to have a lasting influence on the Brisbane Broncos according to one of the club's greatest ever players, Justin Hodges.
Reed announced his immediate retirement from rugby league on Wednesday at the age of 28 and with 126 NRL games and five Tests to his credit, citing his desire to live a healthy life for his family as the reason for calling time.
While there have certainly been players with more flash than Reed his work in defence and larrikin nature made him a highly valued member of the Broncos playing group for the past six seasons.
Hodges and Reed were Brisbane's centre pairing in their golden point grand final loss to the Cowboys last year and Hodges believes that the English international has not been given due credit for the emergence of Corey Oates.
Now embedded in the Queensland State of Origin team and at short odds to travel on the Four Nations tour with the Kangaroos at the end of the season, Oates returned to the wing at the start of last season and has since scored 29 tries in 45 games, Hodges crediting Reed with his rapid development.
"He's probably one of the best defensive centres in the game," Hodges told NRL.com.
"He can read the game quite well and he had a great relationship there with Corey Oates.
"He helped mentor him a little bit and I think that's something that didn't get noticed apart from the playing group.
"'Oatesy' was a good young kid and 'Reedy' took him under his wing and looked after him and nurtured him.
"I think that's something that some people miss, what players do for other players around him and Reedy made him a lot better than probably what he could have been."
Beset by shoulder injuries in recent seasons, Reed's realisation that it was best to stop playing was born out of a father's simple wish to pick up his daughter, Quinn, pain free.
"When you wake up for the last two months in pain and you can barely hold your daughter, it’s a tough one," Reed said on Wednesday.
"You have to take a look in to your future and at the end of the day football is a small bubble in your life.
"You play until you are 30 years of age and you have another 70 years of living after that. I'd rather live healthy.
"I'd rather be out the back kicking the footy around with my daughter than getting gingerly off the couch because I pushed my body too far."
The return of Wayne Bennett ahead of the 2015 season put Reed somewhat on notice, who admitted to some complacency under previous coach Anthony Griffin while Bennett appeared very much to be a man who needed convincing.
Midway through last year Bennett cryptically said that he "had a lot of thoughts about Jack" when he arrived at the club but Hodges has no doubt that over the past two seasons the master coach had become an unabashed Reed fan.
"Jack was always the guy who liked to have fun and he loved a beer. He loved playing football and then having a beer with his mates," Hodges said.
"There's nothing wrong with that but Wayne's mindset was that times had changed and you can't do those sorts of things now.
"But Wayne ended up having a whole lot of respect for Reedy because he knew how hard he worked and that was just Jack Reed.
"He wasn't going to change who he was because then he wouldn't be true to himself if he changed his character.
"He was a bit of a larrikin and liked to have a bit of fun and mixed in well from day one. That's what made him so special, everyone loved being around him.
"He'd go out there and bust his arse for you and put his body on the line which has what has stopped him from playing football now.
"Just an all-round top bloke that you loved putting the boots on and going to work with every day."