LEEDS RHINOS say veteran Australian forward Keith Galloway’s decision to retire from top-level rugby was taken with their “blessing and support”.
The 32-year-old prop has been released from his contract, which was due to expire at the end of this season, and joined New South Wales country club Oakdale Workers, who play in the Group 6 competition.
Rhinos have now begun looking for a replacement, though chief executive Gary Hetherington said that may not necessarily be a front-rower.
Galloway joined Rhinos from Wests Tigers in 2016 and was player of the year runner-up that season, but two separate Achilles injuries limited him to just 43 games for Rhinos.
He had been due to be back in action next month, but Rhinos allowed him to return to Australia to continue his recovery and he was at the World Club Challenge tie with Melbourne Storm two weeks ago.
Hetherington said: “When he got his injury last year both Brian [McDermott, Rhinos’ coach] and myself thought that might be so frustrating and disappointing it could be the finish for him.
“We spoke to him and that was not what he wanted to do, the last thing he wanted was to finish on the injury list. This was always going to be the last year of his contract and he was going to retire at the end of the season, but his personal circumstances have changed.
“For family reasons he has decided to stay in Australia.
“He would not have been fit anyway until April and he has made this decision with the blessing and full support of the club. It is disappointing that injury has brought to an end his career with the Rhinos, but he leaves with our best wishes.”
Explaining his exit, Galloway said: “It has been a tough decision, but I know it is the right one for me and my family.
“Despite my two major injuries at the Rhinos, I have loved being part of this fantastic club. I have made friendships that will last forever and I have enjoyed living in Leeds.
“The time is right for me to move on to the next chapter of my life. I would like to finish my time on the field on my terms, but that will not be as a full-time professional now as I look towards a career after rugby.”
He added: “I would like to thank Gary Hetherington and Brian McDermott for giving me the chance to play for Leeds Rhinos and all our backroom staff and players who have supported me throughout my time at the club.
“I will be backing the boys from here in Australia and will always remain a Rhino.”
McDermott said: “Keith has been a fantastic member of our squad over the last three years.
“His quality on the field should not be underestimated [and] we are sad to see him go.”