Newcastle Rugby League: Cessnock Goannas prop Brendan Hlad calls full-time on career

CHARGE: Cessnock Goannas prop Brendan Hlad may have played his last game of rugby league after suffering a nasty eye injury on the weekend. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
CHARGE: Cessnock Goannas prop Brendan Hlad may have played his last game of rugby league after suffering a nasty eye injury on the weekend. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

Brendan Hlad was going to retire at the end of 2016. Same after 2017. And again in 2018.

For various reasons the Cessnock Goannas prop kept on going, but this time he says it's for real.

The veteran hard man, who once plied his trade in the English Super League, is calling full-time on his footy career.

Hlad may have even played his last game.

The 32-year-old father-of-three suffered a nasty eye injury early in Saturday's 57-0 loss to Newcastle Rugby League leaders Western Suburbs and was taken to nearby Cessnock Hospital.

An accidental clash with a teammate during a tackle left Hlad without any vision from his right eye.

The coal miner has since, after a few days off work this week, been cleared of any major damage and is expected to make a "full recovery".

However, rugby league may now take a back seat to Hlad's family.

"It was a freak accident," Hlad said.

"I lost all vision out of that eye. I've got it back now, but it was a bit blurry for a few days.

"I went to hospital [initially] to get it checked out and I've had a few scans [since]. They reckon I should make a full recovery.

"But that's me for football. I'm done. It is what it is and you've got to retire some time.

"I've tried to give up a couple of times [before]. At the end of 2016 and then I thought one more year. Then my mate Al Lantry came back to coach [in 2018] so I went one more year. Then Todd Edwards came back [in 2019] so I played again.

"But there's zero chance I'll play this weekend.

"I've got three boys [aged three, six, 11]. They deserve my time now more than football."

Cessnock born and bred Hlad, who has played in four losing grand finals for the Goannas since returning to Australia from a season with the Castleford Tigers a decade ago, will be sidelined this Saturday.

The Coalfields club travel to Townson Oval to meet second-placed South Newcastle on Sleapy's Day, needing a result of some description to have any chance of reaching the semis. Essentially, it's finals footy already for the men wearing black and gold.

While Hlad hasn't ruled out contemplating a comeback, pending medical clearance, if Cessnock make the play-offs next weekend the former Knights junior, Penrith senior and NSW Country representative may not lace up a boot again. He notched up his 150th first grade game for the Goannas last year.

Dan Metcalf will likely replace Hlad.

Marvin Filipo (shoulder) is also out for Cessnock with Steve Waetford (elbow), who has been injured for the best part of two months, set to return.

This story Newcastle Rugby League: Cessnock Goannas prop Brendan Hlad calls full-time on career first appeared on Newcastle Herald.