During the build-up to the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Grand Final between Melbourne Storm and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Sunday 2 October, the NRL paid tribute to 26 retiring players, including Dyldam Parramatta Eels forward Anthony Watmough.
Watmough joined the Eels in 2015, after playing the majority of his career wih the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.
Playing his 300th NRL game as an Eel, when the Blue and Gold clashed with the Storm, Watmough joined an exclusive Club after becoming just the 23rd player to contest 300 first grade NRL games.
Watmough entered the 2016 season with high hopes but earlier in the year he suffered what was ultimately a career-ending knee injury. In May 2016 he announced his retirement after a stellar NRL career that included 2 Premierships.
Watmough also boasts an impressive representative career having played 14 games for NSW (2005, 2009 - 2014) two for City (2005, 2007), 16 Tests for Australia (2008-2013), the Four Nations (2009-2011), NRL All Stars (’2010 and 2012) and the 2008 World Cup.
What a way to say goodbye to the game of rugby league. Just want to thank all these guys next to me, they have been my biggest inspiration and the reason I got out of bed everyday. I also want to thank all the friends,family and fans that have supported me through the years, you guys made playing the game all the more enjoyable. Now it is on to a new chapter with many new things to come, hopefully you guys can still support me through my new endeavors. So once again a massive thank you from the bottom of my heart I love all you guys thanks you for an amazing ride.
Watmough took part in a lap of honour for retiring and departing players including Grand Final player Michael Ennis (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos), Jack Reed (Brisbane Broncos), Sam Perrett, Antonio Kaufusi (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Glenn Hall (North Queensland Cowboys), Ben Creagh (St George Illawarra Dragons), James McManus, Jeremy Smith, Kade Snowden, Todd Lowrie (Newcastle Knights), Nigel Plum (Penrith Panthers), Joel Reddy (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Glen Buttriss (Canberra Raiders), Dene Halatau (Wests Tigers), Nathan Friend, Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans) and Ali Lauitiiti (Warriors).
“The tribute to our retiring players is one of the real emotional moments of Grand Final Day,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said.
“This year, we are saying goodbye to some players who have contributed enormously to the game both on and off the field.
“There are internationals among this year’s group, State of Origin players, Test players – it is an extraordinary group of players and all of them will be missed.
“Thankfully, there are some wonderful ambassadors and role models among our 2016 class - this is far from the last we will be seeing of them.”