Kyle Turner has reluctantly called time on his NRL career. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Kyle Turner has reluctantly called time on his NRL career. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Retirement blow: NRL title winner priced out of the game

We often focus on the top-end NRL player salaries and think that all the footballers are cruising on easy street.

But Kyle Turner is living proof that is not the case.

Two weeks short of his 28th birthday, and despite busting his neck and his back among multiple injuries suffered playing the game he loves, a disheartened Turner has now reluctantly called time on his NRL career.

After being cut from South Sydney at the end of last season, the premiership-winning forward spent the summer training on his own back in his hometown of Coonabarabran in hope of getting one last crack.

But while Turner said there was some interest from a few NRL clubs to play again this season, ultimately he couldn't afford to stay living in Sydney while supporting a young family on the wage he was offered.

It is believed Turner would have stood to earn about $70,000.

 

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Kyle Turner reluctantly called time on his NRL career. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Kyle Turner reluctantly called time on his NRL career. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

But with a fiancée Emma (who is currently on maternity leave) and their 11-month-old baby boy Cheyse, Turner said he had to put his family ahead of his own ambitions.

"I love football, I really do," Turner said.

"And I'd do anything to play again.

"But I have to do what is right for my family because it is not just about me anymore.

"Our little boy is not even a year old yet so Emma is not working.

"And the fact is I have been offered jobs back home for better money than I would have got playing footy."

 

Turner conceded he was disappointed at the current NRL guidelines that restrict each club to only 30 contracted NRL players, with a further six development players also eligible to play in the top grade in any given season.

While you could argue many of the young guns are also on outrageous salaries, seasoned campaigners like Turner are being forced out way too early because they are not eligible to play NRL unless on a top-30 salary.

"It is crazy," Turner agreed.

"I don't understand it but it is what it is."

 

Kyle Turner said he had to put his family ahead of his own ambitions. Picture: AAP
Kyle Turner said he had to put his family ahead of his own ambitions. Picture: AAP

 

Turner conceded he had struggled to come to terms with his decision.

"It is a bit disheartening," he added. "I know the year before (in 2018 under Anthony Seibold) I didn't have the best year and I was plagued by injuries and obviously I was playing reserve grade. I kind of thought that would be the end for me.

"But then I picked myself up and got a full year out last year and I thought I didn't go too bad. I thought it warranted getting another contract.

"If it wasn't with the Bunnies at least somewhere else.

"To find out that there is not much happening is a bit disheartening. But I can't sit around and mope all day.

"I have to pick myself up and get onto the next part of my life. It is a bit sad.

"I never thought I'd be done at 28."

Turner will clock off with 91 NRL games as well as representing the Indigenous All Stars and NSW Country, and of course playing his part in Souths' drought-breaking premiership campaign.

He said he was still weighing up what his next move would be workwise, but he plans to continue studying to become a primary school teacher.


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