Injury calls time on Young's NRL career
By Joe Barton
SYDNEY, April 10 AAP – After six seasons of training on his own and playing through the pain of a chronic knee injury, St George Illawarra lock Dean Young will finally hang up the boots at the end of the 2012 NRL season.
The writing was on the wall when Young suffered a knee injury at the end of 2006 – before complications in the surgery resulted in him contracting a golden staph infection that caused him to lose 15kg.
The following season he would play just three matches as he struggled to regain fitness and strength in his left knee, but he refused to throw in the towel despite not being able to train with the team during the week.
Instead, the NSW and Australian representative would spend his time swimming and boxing away from the main group – before strapping on the boots each week to add to his tally for the joint-venture club, which currently stands at 192 games ahead of Friday’s clash with Newcastle.
“(The knee is) not good and it hasn’t been good since 2006. There were fair complications with (the surgery) (but) I’ve been able to play,” Young told reporters on Tuesday.
“The Dragons staff have been unbelievable with me.
“I don’t think I’ve done a running fitness session for about three years (but the players have) never been dirty on me.
“(But) it’s just getting worse and worse. It’s time to move on.”
Young came close to pulling the pin at the end of last season, only to be convinced by high performance trainer Andrew Gray that he had another year in his knees.
Such is Young’s value to the Dragons, chief executive Peter Doust had even been in talks to extend his current deal – which doesn’t end until 2014.
But the 28-year-old knew there wasn’t much left in the tank after the Dragons’ round three victory over Wests Tigers, and made the decision to wrap it up at the end of the season.
“After playing a couple of games I knew with myself that my knee wasn’t up to it,” he said.
“I wanted to move on. I’ve been playing in a fair bit of pain for the last six years.
”... I’ve got nothing else to give. I’ve done more than what I anticipated in the game and I can retire happy knowing that I’m at the end.
“My knee can’t go any further, I can’t go any further. I’m happy.”
Dragons skipper Ben Hornby said Young would be remembered as one of the club’s great players.
“I think he’ll be remembered as one of our great players,” Hornby said.
“He gave everything he had to the club. I think a lot of our blokes can take a lot of inspiration from what he does on the field and the way he conducts himself off it.
“He’s our forward leader for the last couple of years and he’s going to be sorely missed.
”... He had a huge influence on the grand final (win in 2010) as well. It’s been a great career for him.”
10 Apr 9:30 PM