Pratt forced to retire at 25 because of shoulder injury

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The Bradford and Great Britain utility player Karl Pratt has been forced into retirement at age 25 by a persistent shoulder injury. Pratt had not been fit to play for the Bulls since May and the club confirmed yesterday that they were releasing him from his contract after he was given medical advice not to play again.

"I'm devastated at having to leave the game, but the specialist's advice has to be adhered to and it leaves me with no other option," he said.

Pratt emerged as a teenaged half-back of great promise at Featherstone Rovers. He moved to Leeds in 1999 but they sacked him at the end of the 2002 season, accusing him of an unprofessional attitude. The Great Britain coach at the time, David Waite, had a higher opinion of him, selecting him on the wing for Tests against Australia and New Zealand that season.

The versatile Pratt also went on to have great success at club level for Bradford, playing half-back, wing and hooker in the side that won the Challenge Cup and the Super League title in 2003. His shoulder injuries became an increasing concern, however, and now his chequered career is over.

"It should serve as a warning to other players to make the most of their careers while they can, because you never know what's around the corner," said his Bradford coach, Brian Noble.

The Australian coach, Wayne Bennett, has run into criticism on his return to the country, after giving the waiting media the slip at Brisbane Airport.

Bennett was expected to meet reporters, but instead took a back way out and avoided them. Asked about that later, Bennett, who presided over the Kangaroos' first series defeat in 27 years in the Tri-Nations in Britain, said that he had nothing to say. "I still have nothing to say," he said when contacted at his home.

The chief executive of the Australian Rugby League, Geoff Carr, defended Bennett's action, saying: "The squad elected to break up overseas and that's where their responsibilities ended."