Cronulla Sharks forward Luke Lewis announces retirement at end of 2018 NRL season

One of a kind: Sharks forward Luke Lewis has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Picture: John Veage

One of a kind: Sharks forward Luke Lewis has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Picture: John Veage

In 50, or 60, or 100 years time, rugby league historians will look back and find the name Luke Lewis.

They will look through his career with disbelief.

They will see a man who won two premierships, 13 years apart, playing as a winger and then a back-rower.

Then they will look through his other statistics. A man who played more than 300 NRL games, won a Clive Churchill Medal, played 17 State of Origins for NSW and 16 Tests for Australia.

But it his intangible, immeasurable qualities that are why he is so revered by fellow players and coaches and will be so fondly remembered by fans of the game.

Honour, mental strength, toughness. Loyalty.

After 18 years, Lewis has decided to call time on a glittering career.

Lewis announced he would finish his career at the end of the season on television on Tuesday night, with the 34-year-old Cronulla back-rower sure to be remembered as one of the great modern forwards of the game.

Picture: John Veage

Picture: John Veage

His grit, durability, resilience and ferocious defending sometimes overshadow his ability as a footballer. An ability to pass and guile with the ball have followed him through his career.

A proud and loyal servant of Penrith, where he played 208 matches from 2001 to 2012 and won the 2003 grand final, Lewis switched to the shire in 2013 and helped the Sharks win their historic first premiership in 2016. He has said it was the best decision of his career.

Lewis started as a winger and centre followed by a brief stint in the halves before he found his home in the back-row. His evolution as a player just adds to his reputation.

"It's been an awesome 18 years and I've loved every minute of it. I'll retire with great memories," Lewis said.

Close: Luke Lewis goes close to scoring in the 2016 grand final. Picture: John Veage

Close: Luke Lewis goes close to scoring in the 2016 grand final. Picture: John Veage

"My family and friends have obviously given me great support over the years. I've made long-time and what will be life-long friendships with people in and around the game but also outside of footy. And I also want to give a massive thanks to the fans.

"I've had fantastic support. Not just at the Sharks, not only when I was at the Panthers but from rugby league fans in general. People who have always supported and stuck by me. I couldn't have got to where I am now without them.

"Growing up in the area and playing for Penrith was a huge thrill for me and I'm thankful for the years I spent at the Panthers and I'm grateful for the opportunity to come to the Sharks six years ago.

"Playing in a grand final at the Sharks and to win the first premiership in the club's history, the mates I've made while I've been here, it's something I'll hold close for the rest of my life.”

Unstoppable: Luke Lewis runs the ball during the 2016 grand final. Picture: John Veage

Unstoppable: Luke Lewis runs the ball during the 2016 grand final. Picture: John Veage

He will always be highly regarded in the shire for his effort in the black, white and blue, highlighted by the 2016 season and his man of the match performance in Cronulla’s maiden grand final victory over Melbourne.

A year later, Lewis became just the 28th player to play 300 NRL games.

Lewis is expected back from a calf injury before the finals where he will hope to add a third premiership ring to his collection.

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