O’MELEY CALLS TIME ON CAREER
By Matt Holden | 04/09/2013
Mark O’Meley has called time on a distinguished 15-year career on both sides of the world after a knee injury caused the former Australia and New South Wales prop to bring forward his retirement plans.
The ex-Canterbury Bulldogs and Sydney Roosters front-rower damaged knee ligaments in Hull’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup final defeat to Wigan Warriors at Wembley last month and with scans ruling him out for the rest of the season, the 32-year-old has made the decision to hang up his boots with immediate effect.
Already planning to retire at the end of the campaign to return home, the man affectionately nicknamed The Ogre admits it is not the way he wished to bring down the curtain on a fantastic career, but says he is thankful for all he has achieved in the game.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The 18th Man ahead of this Friday's match against St Helens, he said, “It’s a premature ending but it’s good to be able to say my last game was at Wembley in a big final with a good bunch of guys and all the Hull fans behind us.
“It’s a bit saddening and I wouldn’t have minded having a couple of last hit-outs with the boys before retiring at the end of the season, but everybody has made me feel welcome, the supporters have been awesome to me, the club’s been tremendous and I’ve made some really good friends here.
“I’ve had a lot of blokes getting in touch talking about retirement and how you deal with it. It will be a bit difficult but there’s a time when everybody has to stop doing what they love.
“I’ve done it since I was 15 and now I’m at an age where I’ve got to find the next chapter in my life and I’m pretty comfortable with doing that.”
Arriving at the Black and Whites in 2010 along with good friend and Sydney Roosters teammate Craig Fitzgibbon, O’Meley has gone on to rack up 90 appearances in his four seasons with the club, scoring 13 tries.
A blockbusting front-rower whose all-action style made him a fans’ favourite on both sides of the world, O’Meley has also starred for New South Wales 10 times and picked up 15 caps for Australia, as well as representing the International Exiles during his spell in Super League.
Recognised within the Hull squad for his professionalism and influence on the club’s emerging young stars such as Chris Green and Josh Bowden, the forward admits he will always hold a strong passion for the sport, despite not intending to follow in the footsteps of Fitzy and take up a coaching career in Australia.
“I’ve got two kids who love the game and are very passionate about rugby, so I’ll never become one of those old players who are bitter about the way the sport is or current players making more money from it,” he adds in his customary down-to-earth style.
“I want to be grateful for the game that’s given me everything I’ve got and rewarded me the way it did. It was disappointing that we didn’t win at Wembley but it’s still given me a taste of that and I count myself pretty fortunate and lucky to have had that experience, as well as playing for my country and for New South Wales, and winning the NRL Grand Final.”
Supporters will have their chance to show their appreciation to O’Meley before kick-off at Friday’s clash with St Helens at the KC Stadium, while there is also an extensive interview with the prop in this week’s edition of The 18th Man.
Sitting down with the club’s match day programme this week, O’Meley looks back on the highs and lows of his illustrious career on both sides of the world, as well as sharing his thoughts on the wider game and a bright future for the Black and Whites.
You can pick up your copy of the programme for just £3 from sellers around the ground or from the club’s retail store at the KC Stadium.