The Eels have paid tribute to a pair of retiring veterans in Isaac De Gois and Jeff Robson at their annual Ken Thornett Medal night with De Gois admitting it is sad to be forced out by injury.
 Telstra Premiership - Round 26: Eels vs Rabbitohs
De Gois passed 50 appearances at three different clubs across a 225-game first grade career with Wests Tigers, Cronulla, Newcastle and Parramatta before lingering effects from a pre-season concussion forced him into retirement this year.
Robson left his Riverina homeland to join the Eels system as a 17-year-old back in 2000 before eventually debuting with Manly in 2004. He returned to the Eels for a personal breakout season in 2009 in which he was the halfback in the team's memorable charge to the grand final.
Stints at Cronulla and the Warriors followed before a third spell in blue and gold, plugging a huge gap in an injury-ravaged side for nine games last year. His one NRL game in 2017 saw him score a try in the Round 3 loss to the Titans but his Wentworthville teammates spoke in glowing terms of their pride at playing alongside the veteran in his final season.
De Gois admitted it had been a "difficult" year given the lengthy uncertainty around whether he would ever be able to return to the field.
"[Rugby league] is a big part of your life," De Gois told attendees at the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse Grand Pavilion on Monday night.
"You meet people you're going to know for the rest of your life as well. It's given me everything I've got today. I'm thankful to all the clubs I've been to… I was fortunate enough to play for Parramatta. I'm thankful to the Eels for sticking by me through quite a tough time."
De Gois in particular thanked the Eels coaching staff, head coach Brad Arthur and assistants Pete Gentle and Steve Murphy, and the playing group for their support through the uncertain period.
"It has been difficult. Obviously retiring not on your terms through injury is always tough," De Gois said.
"In saying that the players, all the boys have been extremely supportive. They've always been there asking how I am, just little things like that."
Robson said it was an honour to come back and finish his career where it had started.
"I moved up here [from Leeton] as a 17 year old back in 2000. I think some of the boys here were still in nappies!" Robson laughed.
"I'd just like to thank Brad and the club for having me back. I really wanted to finish my career here.
"It's a great bunch of boys. It's a tight knit group and it's like family I reckon, everyone gets on well and everyone sprays each other and has a laugh.
"It shows on the field how they've been playing. If it's good off the field you're usually good on it. I'm just honoured to be back at the club.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing rugby league... The mates you get out of the time you play and the clubs that you've been to, I don't think anyone would speak badly about their experiences playing rugby league."