FORMER Celtic Crusaders star Neil Budworth will bow out of international rugby league following Wales last match of Rugby League World Cup 2013 this Sunday when the Cook Islands are the visitors to The Gnoll in Neath.
The 31-year old hooker, who played 83 times for the then Bridgend-based club, including 27 appearances in Super League, has enjoyed his time with Wales and wants to go out on a high by helping his side to a win.
Its really good to be back in Wales again, he said. Ive enjoyed coming back to play for Wales Rugby League over the last five years, its been the pinnacle of my career.
But this is my last year with Wales Rugby League. Im going to retire from the international game after this and spend a bit of time with my partner in Australia.
Hailing from Wigan, Budworth played for five years in Super League with London Broncos before moving to Wales and his three years with Celtic Crusaders allowed him to qualify for Wales under the residency rule.
He made his Wales debut against England in 2009 and has won 15 caps since then, helping Wales to win the European Cup in 2009 and 2010 on the way.
Moving to Australia in 2010, he signed for Intrust Super Cup side Mackay Cutters before joining local league side Moranbah Miners who were coached by his former Crusaders team-mate Josh Hannay (who has now signed on with the Souths Logan Magpies).
Moranbah also offered me a job away from rugby league to go alongside me playing so Ive gone down that route now, he said.
Im getting on a bit, Im almost 32, so I wanted to look after my career outside of rugby league.
I was pleased to link up again with Josh Hannay as hes a good friend of mine.
"He helped me to get to the club and helped me get a career outside of rugby too so Im grateful to him for that. Its been a good year and Ive enjoyed playing for Moranbah, theyre a great bunch of guys.
I had three good years in South Wales playing for Celtic Crusaders and Id like to thank everyone for their support from when I moved to Wales in 2007 right up until now.
"Ive made a lot of friends in the area over the years and I hope to see many of them on Sunday when Wales take on Cook Islands in Neath. Itll be nice to see a big crowd there with a lot of familiar faces and hopefully I can leave with a win.
Go to www.rlwc2013.com for more news from the Rugby League World Cup.