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2020 retiring class: 5000 games of experience leaving NRL

A crop of NRL talent is headed to England while two of the game's biggest stars could join a wealth of experienced players moving into retirement.

Eels forward Brad Takairangi (Hull KR), Wests Tigers playmaker Josh Reynolds (Hull FC), Dragons prop Korbin Sims (Hull KR), Warriors forward Agnatius Paasi (St Helens) and Knights back-rower Sione Mata'utia (St Helens) are among the latest players to depart the NRL for the Super League.

Veteran hooker Cameron King hung up the boots after a career spanning 10 years while South Sydney forward Ethan Lowe confirmed his retirement due to a neck injury, joining a growing list of players farewelled after the 2020 season.

Former Cowboys premiership-winner Lowe underwent surgery for a bulging disc in July and retired at 29 on medical advice.

King and Lowe joined Gerard Beale and Eels prop David Gower as some of the latest players to call time on their NRL careers after more than a decade of service to the game.

Beale took to Instagram to confirm he'll hang up the boots on 194 games after not being offered a contract renewal by the Warriors for next season.

The 30-year-old premiership-winner made his NRL debut in 2009 with the Brisbane Broncos before stints at the Dragons, Sharks and Warriors. 

Gower, 35, was restricted to three games this year in his overall tally of 121.

Farah pays tribute to Lawrence - will Benji be the next to retire?

The Eels prop will take up a role with the club's education and well-being team next year. 

After back-to-back seasons in which more than 4000 games of experience has been lost to the NRL, the greatest game of all is unlikely to be spared a reprieve in one of the most disruptive seasons in recent history.

Storm great Cameron Smith and Wests Tigers legend Benji Marshall could help push the overall total past 5000 games if they choose not to play on next season.

The Storm captain is no certainty to go around again at Melbourne, particularly with Brandon Smith and Harry Grant waiting in the wings.

The Broncos and Titans are hopeful of acquiring his services if he wants to return to the Sunshine State in the twilight of his career.  

Marshall is looking to secure a deal after being told the Wests Tigers will not re-sign him.

The retirement announcement of Darius Boyd in March started the list of retirements in 2020.

Wests Tigers stalwart Chris Lawrence added his name to the list of confirmed retirees in August after 15 seasons at the club.

One-club Roosters utility Mitchell Aubusson also announced his intentions to retire at season's end after passing Anthony Minichiello's record for most appearances at the club.

Former Rabbitohs premiership-winning forward Chris McQueen will depart the Wests Tigers for the English Super League next season after 164 NRL appearances.

Warriors veteran Adam Blair played his 331st and final game in September after 15 seasons in the NRL. 

The 34-year-old had an option in his favour to play on in 2021 but the pending arrivals of forwards Addin Fonua-Blake, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Kane Evans made his decision an easier one.

Newcastle forward Tim Glasby announced his immediate retirement following the side's win over the Dragons in round 19 following lingering concussion symptoms.

Glasby played 138 games across eight seasons at the Knights and Melbourne Storm, winning a title under Craig Bellamy in 2017. 

Glasby joined former Queensland teammates Gavin Cooper and Aidan Guerra in the same month to call it quits after stellar careers.

Peni Terepo on retirement, epilepsy and life after footy

Eels forward Peni Terepo has also called it a day due to his ongoing battle with epilepsy.

Sea Eagles back-rower Joel Thompson and Raiders forward John Bateman are also bound for Super League next season, taking a combined more than 250 games of Telstra Premiership experience with them.

English forward James Graham left the Dragons in June after 186 games in the NRL, while former Bulldogs teammate Kerrod Holland has also hung up the boots.

Darius Boyd confirms 2020 season will be his last

Mid-season retirements Jayson Bukuya (186 games) and Shannon Boyd (125 games) add a further 300 to the total, while Suliasi Vunivalu is set for a move to rugby union at season's end but the Storm and other NRL clubs would love to welcome him back to the 13-player code down the track.

There were several players who announced their retirement in the pre-season, including Matt Gillett, Sam Burgess, Tim Grant and Sam McKendry.

Former Canterbury and Dragons forward James Graham.
Former Canterbury and Dragons forward James Graham. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

The retiring class of 2020

  • Mitchell Aubusson (Sydney Roosters)
  • John Bateman (Canberra Raiders)
  • Gerard Beale (New Zealand Warriors)
  • Adam Blair (New Zealand Warriors)
  • Darius Boyd (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Shannon Boyd (Gold Coast Titans)
  • Jamie Buhrer (Newcastle Knights)
  • Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla Sharks)
  • Sam Burgess (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
  • Gavin Cooper (North Queensland Cowboys)
  • Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Tim Glasby (Newcastle Knights)
  • David Gower (Parramatta Eels)
  • James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  • Tim Grant (Penrith Panthers)
  • Aidan Guerra (Newcastle Knights)
  • Kerrod Holland (Bulldogs)
  • Cameron King (Sharks)
  • Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers)
  • Ethan Lowe (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
  • Ben Matulino (Wests Tigers)
  • Sam McKendry (Penrith Panthers)
  • Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers)
  • Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels)
  • Joel Thompson (Manly Sea Eagles)
  • Young Tonumaipea (Gold Coast Titans)
  • Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)

Decisions pending

  • Cameron Smith 
  • Benji Marshall
  • Bryson Goodwin 
  • Tony Williams
  • Issac Luke 
  • Ben Te'o
  • Elijah Taylor 
  • Nathan Peats 
Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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