The former Wigan and Bradford favourite Henry Paul has said he will retire at the end of the new Super League season.
Harlequins' former New Zealand international said he had lost none of his desire but felt it was the right time to bow out. "My mindset is that this is my last year," said the 33-year-old dual-code international. "The time is coming when I am thinking of other things to do."
Paul won the Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup with both Wigan and Bradford before making a switch to union in 2001. He joined Gloucester and, eligible through a Liverpudlian grandfather, won six caps for England before returning to league in April 2006.
Now, with only a year left on his contract at the Twickenham Stoop, he intends to make the most of his final season before retiring. "I'm going to make sure I give it everything and really enjoy it," he said. "I'm feeling fit, fresh and ready to go."
The former stand-off won 23 caps for the Kiwis and played in the 2000 World Cup final. Harlequins start the new season against Paul's old club Wigan at the Stoop on 9 February.
Huddersfield and Warrington, meanwhile, will kick off this year's Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff. Round seven of the Super League is being played over two days at the Millennium Stadium, starting on Saturday 3 May, with the Huddersfield-Warrington match at 3pm. That will be followed by the derbies between Wakefield and promoted Castleford and Leeds and Bradford at 5pm and 7pm respectively.
The following day Catalans Dragons take on Harlequins at 2.30pm, followed by the Hull derby at 4.30pm and Wigan's match with St Helens at 6.30pm.
St Helens have signed the grandson of former Great Britain hooker Tony Karalius. Ben Karalius, a scrum-half who is a member of the England Under-16 squad, joins the club's academy squad from West Bank Bears amateur club.
The Challenge Cup holders have also signed three other youngsters from their scholarship scheme, second rowers Carl Forster and Scott Hale and centre Thomas Makinson.
England coach Tony Smith is aiming to act as a go-between for the game's governing body and its clubs in his new role as technical director. The former Huddersfield and Leeds manager took up a full-time role with the Rugby Football League after guiding the Rhinos to victory in October's Super League Grand Final, and immediately masterminded a Test series whitewash of New Zealand.
His role as Great Britain – and now England – coach has been well documented but Smith has been busy immersing himself in his new day-to-day administrative duties at the league's Red Hall headquarters on the outskirts of Leeds.
"I basically finished the series and started work the next day," he said. "I'm enjoying it much more than I expected. The freshness of having a new job has been rejuvenating."Reuse content