Vastly respected iSelect Gold Coast Titans lock Ashley Harrison has today announced he will end his outstanding 15-season NRL career at the end of the season.
Harrison had a year remaining on his Titans contract but “knew it was time” to draw down the curtain. He picked an appropriate time to make the announcement, days before he matches up against the club where his career began back in 2001, the Brisbane Broncos, in this Friday night’s top-of-the-table local derby at Cbus Super Stadium.
He is 11 days away from his 33rd birthday but has been in tremendous form in the Titans’ four victories in 2014. He is a qualified financial advisor and has long had plans to go into that industry.
“I wanted to go out on my terms while still enjoying the game, which I am more than ever probably,” Harrison said. “And I want to be a player that maybe retired a season too early than a season too late.
“There is no better time to announce it after we’re coming off three good wins and the club is in good shape; I certainly didn’t want to become a distraction.
“I have been playing rugby league since I was seven and put everything into it, and I owe the game a whole lot. I just felt it was time, so this season is my last.”
Harrison, who emotionally told his teammates this morning of his decision, particularly thanked his wife Majella, family, teammates, support staff and his coaches from Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett to his coach of the past seven seasons John Cartwright, for the incredible support he has had.
Titans executive director Michael Searle, who was instrumental in bring Harrison to the club from the Sydney Roosters in 2008, said Harrison’s early decision and the way he relayed it to the coaching staff and teammates was a mark of the quality man Harrison is.
“Ash Harrison has been a wonderful leader on and off the field for many years and I would expect him to play a role in its future for many years to come,” said Searle. “It is critical for our game’s future to keep people like Ashley involved in the game’s administration.
“I would like to acknowledge the gravitas with which Ash and his family made this decision and the announcement.”
Titan’s coach John Cartwright paid tribute to Harrison’s consistency and commitment.
“Ash is the thorough professional and the impact he has on our team extends far more than what you see on match day,” said Cartwright. “His influence is enormous at our club; he’s irreplaceable.
“He is just consistent every week at club level, season after season, and has shown his quality through how valuable he has been to Queensland over seven series. He’s a player others want beside them and he continues to be one of our best this season.
“He’ll be able to retire knowing he has deserved every accolade and has done everything possible to achieve what he could have.”
Harrison will play his 272nd first grade game against the Broncos on Friday which sees him move into 40th place on the all-time appearance list in the game’s 106-season history. He is on the verge of being in the top 10 Queenslanders (Michael Hancock is in 10th place with 274 appearances) on the all-time list too.
He played 52 NRL games for Brisbane from 2002-02, 66 for South Sydney (2003-05), Sydney Roosters (2007-08) before heading back to Queensland to be a rock for the Titans since 2008 (111 games). Only Mark Minichiello (154), Luke Bailey (137) and Scott Prince (124) have played more games for the Titans.
Harrison has also represented Queensland 15 times in State of Origin in 2005 and from 2008-13, playing a role in six series victories.