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Decision pending: 6000 games of experience may join retiring class

Warriors veteran Adam Blair became the 12th player to announce the 2020 season as the list of retirees and NRL experience departing the game remains on track for a record-breaking year.

Blair will play his 331st and final game on Sunday when the Warriors host the Sea Eagles on the Central Coast 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 joins former Queensland teammates Gavin Cooper and Aidan Guerra as the latest veterans to call time on their NRL careers.

The pair's combined 500 games of NRL experience have pushed the overall total past the 2000-game mark with more than 20 experienced campaigners still weighing up their futures. 

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.

Cameron Smith headlines the list, along with the likes of Benji Marshall, Josh Morris and Iosia Soliola, of veterans who could still sign deals for next season.

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

The amount of experience lost to the game could snowball significantly if Smith decides to hang up the boots at season's end with more than 420 NRL appearances to his name alone.

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.  

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.

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 will also hang up the boots.

Darius Boyd confirms 2020 season will be his last

Elsewhere, Knights veteran Andrew McCullough is expected to return to Red Hill as per the original terms in his Broncos contract.

Roosters co-captain Jake Friend is expected to sign a new deal with the club.

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.

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

The retiring class of 2020

  • Darius Boyd (Brisbane Broncos)
  • Adam Blair (New Zealand Warriors)
  • Gavin Cooper (North Queensland Cowboys)
  • Mitchell Aubusson (Sydney Roosters)
  • Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers)
  • Aidan Guerra (Newcastle Knights)
  • Joel Thompson (Manly Sea Eagles)
  • James Graham (St George Illawarra Dragons)
  • Tim Glasby (Newcastle Knights)
  • Chris McQueen (Wests Tigers)
  • Jayson Bukuya (Cronulla Sharks)
  • Shannon Boyd (Gold Coast Titans)
  • Kerrod Holland (Bulldogs)
  • John Bateman (Canberra Raiders)
  • Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne Storm)

Decisions pending

  • Cameron Smith 
  • Benji Marshall
  • Josh Morris
  • Brett Morris
  • Iosia Soliola 
  • Aiden Tolman 
  • Bryson Goodwin 
  • Tony Williams
  • Issac Luke 
  • Jake Friend
  • Ben Te'o
  • Kieran Foran 
  • Elijah Taylor 
  • Nathan Peats 
  • Gerard Beale
  • David Gower