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By Matt Holden | 14/11/2012
Having confirmed his retirement from rugby league at the age of 24 due to a long-standing back injury, Mike Burnett has today spoken to to reflect on his career at the Black and Whites.

The prop or second row forward has been battling throughout 2012 to recover from two prolapsed discs in his lower back and has been forced to make the difficult decision to hang up his boots on medical grounds and the advice of doctors.

A product of the club’s academy system, Burnett returned to the KC Stadium following a season-long loan at Harlequins in 2011 but was unable to take to the field for the Black and Whites during Super League XVII despite impressing in the early stages of his career with the club.

Speaking to, Burnett said, “I spoke to the specialist last week and he told me that’s it. It’s not nice to hear that sort of news its gutting but it’s part of the game we play, it could happen to anyone.

“It’s been a really tough year for me and I’ve had three operations in nine months. It’s a slow process with having to speak to so many specialists. The injury’s really interfering with my everyday life and I'm struggling to do normal things let alone start any rehab.

“It’s pretty bad at the moment, but I’m staying in close contact with the medical staff at Hull FC and hopefully over the next year or so I’ll start to see some signs of improvement.

"I'm not sure whether I'll stay involved in the sport or look for something outside of rugby league yet but I'm a big believer in that as one door closes, another one opens."

A strong-running forward with an eye for a gap, Burnett was one of Hull’s stand-out performers as a junior and played a crucial role in the under-21s Grand Final win in 2007 alongside Danny Houghton, with whom he played alongside at amateur club East Hull as a junior.

A former England Academy international, Burnett would go on to make 37 appearances in his career at the Black and Whites, scoring four tries, while he also bagged a try while making 21 Super League and Challenge Cup appearances for the Quins last year.

And looking back on his Super League career, he said he would be retiring with many fond memories of his time in the sport and knowing he had made some lifelong friends.

“I’ve loved every minute of it, the highlights for me have been to just even make it as a Super League player. It’s tough to get there and just to make it was an achievement I can be proud of,” he said.

“Looking back at my career, a game that stands out for me was when I made my first start for Hull FC. It came in the first game of the 2009 season at home to Wigan and we managed to pick up the win that day which was a bonus.

“I’ll never forget that feeling of running out in front of almost 15,000 fans at the KC Stadium on a Friday night, it’s something that will stay with me forever.”

He added, “I’ve made some great friends while playing for Hull FC and I’ll be keeping in touch with them. Danny Houghton is somebody I’ve played with since I was 12. We came through the ranks together so it’s great to see him doing so well at the club.

“The other people who stand out from my time in the sport are Craig Fitzgibbon, Willie Manu and Lee Radford. Fitzy’s arrival at the club was massive for me, he played the same position as me and he helped me out a lot on and off the field. To this day, I still follow his example on diet and nutrition and he was a top bloke.

“As for Willie, I could go to him every day asking for advice and he was always happy to help, while Radders has been a huge help to me during my career right from the start so I’d like to say thank you to them for that.”

And as for his current teammates at the Black and Whites, Burnett said he would be keeping a close eye on their progress during 2013 and would continue to be a fan of the club he supported as a youngster.

He said, “I’d just like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has been involved and helped me over the years. A special thank you to my grandad for everything he's done for me and my girlfriend Lucy for putting up with me.

"As for the rest of the lads and everybody else at the club, I want to say good luck for next year and the future. They’ve got some big years ahead of them, hopefully some successful ones individually and as a team, I’d like to wish them the best of luck.”
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