CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ long-serving winger Kirk Dixon has hung up his boots, just a month before the start of the season.
Dixon, who joined Tigers from Hull in 2007, took the decision to retire after undergoing an operation on a neck injury.
“I’ve had surgery to remove a disk and I’ve had an artificial disk put in there and it was going to be at least a six months no contact rehab period,” Dixon, 30, said.
“That would have taken up most of this season and prior to the surgery I already had an idea that I might retire at the end of the 2015 season.
“But it has come to an end now and you simply can’t put a price on your health. It’s certainly not the way I wanted to go out.”
Dixon admitted: “I will miss everything about this place, the office staff, the coaches, the players, Castleford itself.
“There are a great bunch of people here in Cas and an honest set of fans who always pick you up when you need it.
“I’ll just miss it all. Trying to come to terms with not putting the shirt on and walking out of that tunnel is something that hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t for quite some time.
“Watching the boys walk out against Wakefield [in the opening game of the season] is going to be tough, but it’s my health that has to come first now.
“I have a family, a lovely little girl and it would have been selfish of me to carry on from both a family and a club point of view.
“I probably wouldn’t have come back from the injury as the same player.”
Dixon passed 1,000 points for Tigers in last year’s season-opening win over Bradford Bulls and was a member of the side beaten by Leeds Rhinos at Wembley in the Challenge Cup final five months ago.
He recalled: “People try to tell you what it feels like to play at Wembley, but standing there in that tunnel with your best mates behind and in front of you, surrounded by coaching staff that you have utmost respect for, and to do it for a club you have fallen in love with because they have adopted you as your own, after all the club has been through, is just something so special.”
Coach Daryl Powell described Dixon as “a consummate professional” and he added: “His work rate and attention to detail in his practice has been absolutely superb during my time at the club.
“I know everyone connected with the playing and coaching staff will be hugely disappointed with Kirk leaving the club, however everyone’s time as a player has to end and Kirk is leaving with everyone’s best wishes and moving on to the next chapter in his life.
“I wish him the very best in his new challenge and thank him for everything he done for the Tigers. It has been a real pleasure to work with him.”
Tigers chief executive Steve Gill said: “When a player has to quit the sport he loves through injury it is always going to be a sad day.
“Kirk Dixon has given us so many fantastic memories in his nine-year career at the Tigers and has always been a fans’ favourite.
“We will all miss having him around the place and I am sure he will miss being part of our great club.
“On behalf of the people of Castleford I would like to thank Kirk for his magnificent contribution to Castleford Tigers over the years.”
Meanwhile, Tigers have confirmed their 2015 squad numbers: 1 Luke Dorn, 2 James Clare, 3 Jake Webster, 4 Michael Shenton, 5 Justin Carney, 6 Ben Roberts, 7 Luke Gale, 8 Andy Lynch, 9 Adam Milner, 10 Grant Millington, 11 Oliver Holmes, 12 Matt Cook, 13 Nathan Massey, 14 Lee Jewitt, 15 Ryan Boyle, 16 Junior Moors, 17 Scott Moore, 18 Frankie Mariano, 19 Scott Wheeldon, 20 Denny Solomona, 21 Liam Finn, 22 Jordan Tansey, 23 Michael Channing, 24 Mike McMeeken, 25 Steve Crossley, 26 Ashley Gibson, 27 Ash Robson, 28 Will Mawer, 29 Jordan Howden, 30 Brandon Westerman, 31 Brandon Moore, 32 Tom Holmes.