LEAVING home and moving to the big city is always a daunting task, but it's one Rhys Wesser will never regret.
The Rockhampton-raised South Sydney Rabbitohs speedster wound up his career this year after 14 years in the National Rugby League and still remembers the difficult, but life-changing move to western Sydney to join the Penrith Panthers in 1996.
"It was a hard transition, but it was something that I wanted to do and a move that I knew that I needed to make," he said while nursing 17-month-old son Timothy.
"I've had a great time. I've been down (in Sydney) for 15 or 16 years and I've had so many great moments."
Wesser was one of a host of retirees farewelled during Tuesday night's Dally M Awards joining the likes of Darren Lockyer, Mark Gasnier, Andrew Ryan, Preston Campbell and Adam MacDougall in hanging up the boots at the end of 2011.
After making his NRL debut for the Panthers in round 10 of the 1998 season, the father of two went on to play 218 premiership matches for Penrith and the Rabbitohs.
Along the way he won a premiership with the Panthers in 2003, represented Queensland during the 2004 and 2006 State of Origin series and the Indigenous Dreamtime team in 2008 at the Rugby League World Cup.
A prolific try-scorer, Wesser currently holds the all-time try scorers record at Penrith (113) and was the leading try scorer in the NRL during the 2003 season, scoring 25 tries.
And, the highlight of his career?
"There's a lot of good moments, but it'd be hard to go past winning a grand final in 2003 and playing for Queensland," he said.
"But, in the end it's all the mates and good people I've met along the way. That is one of the biggest things I'll take away from it."
Wesser admits he won't miss pre-season training, but will remain involved with the South Sydney club through their Souths Cares program which was set up to assist disadvantaged youth.
"It's something I've always been interested in," he said.
"It starts with the kids and helping them get back on track and heading in the right direction."
DOB: 31 March 1979, Rockhampton
NRL Clubs: Penrith Panthers, South Sydney Rabbitohs
NRL matches: 218
NRL Points: 518
NRL Tries: 129
Highlights: 2003 NRL premiership with Penrith Panthers, four matches for QLD State of Origin 2004, 2006; one match for Indigenous Dream Time Team 2008
NRL Debut: Panthers vs Tigers (Round 10 1998)
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