Injury forces Radlinski to give up 'the game I love'

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The Independent Online

The Wigan and Great Britain full-back Kris Radlinski has retired at the age of 29 because of a knee injury. Radlinski has not played this season - his testimonial year - and managed only 15 appearances last year because of the latest in a series of fitness problems.

"I'm so disappointed that I have to give up the game that I love so much," he said. "I think the day has been coming for a little while and I need to be fair to the club as well as to myself. Now that I have made the decision they can start planning." Radlinski said that fears for his long-term health, brought to the fore by conversations with his specialist, had made up his mind.

"He said I could have serious arthritis in later life," he said. "I have seen older ex-players hobbling around and I didn't want to be one of them."

Radlinski scored 183 tries in 310 games after making his debut for his hometown club in 1993 and will be remembered as one of Wigan's greats in his position.

Perhaps his finest hour was winning the Lance Todd Trophy as man of the match in the 21-12 Challenge Cup final win over St Helens at Murrayfield in 2002, despite playing with a badly injured foot. That season, he captained Great Britain against New Zealand A and scored a hat-trick. He won 20 caps for his country.

"It's dreadful news for Kris, the club and indeed the whole of rugby league, but he has been battling one injury after another since 2002," said the Wigan chairman, Maurice Lindsay, who has offered Radlinski the chance to maintain his links with his only professional club by coaching at youth level. "That is something I will consider in the future," he said. "I've talked it over at length with Maurice and we both agree this is the best way forward."

The strength of the link between club and player was shown last year, when Radlinski rejected a big offer to switch to rugby union. As it has turned out, his playing career was already as good as over. "It's a sad loss for the club and I'm personally sorry that I never got a chance to work with Kris," said the Wigan coach, Ian Millward. "He was a player I much admired."

Radlinski's removal from the wage bill could give Wigan the leeway within their salary cap to make a spectacular signing in mid-season, but Chris Ashton, 18, continues at full-back at Salford tonight in a game both sides insist will not be affected by reports of a pub altercation between players from the two clubs.

With Nick Fozzard injured and their appeals against Paul Sculthorpe and James Graham's suspensions withdrawn, St Helens have Vinnie Anderson and Mike Bennett back in their squad to compensate at Warrington.

Paul Cooke will play for Hull at home to Harlequins, despite a court appearance on an assault charge on Monday. Luke Dorn is in the London club's squad for the first time this season.

Leeds, at home to Castleford, have banned a supporter from Headingley for two years after he intruded on to the pitch at Wigan three weeks ago. The 19-year-old wing Danny Williams has kept his place after a try-scoring debut at St Helens last week.