‘I was struggling to walk after games’: Winterstein retires
NORTH Queensland winger Antonio Winterstein has announced his immediate retirement from rugby league, revealing he has been struggling to walk after games.
Winterstein has battled a number of injuries during the course of his career, and has played 16 games this season - the last of which was in Round 18.
However, he has finally succumbed to a chronic knee injury following recent scans, ending his 214-game NRL career.
"It's something that I tried to ignore but it's something that has to happen for myself and my family," he said on Wednesday.
"It's unexpected but the past couple of months there's been a big change in how the knee was feeling and it became unbearable to even walk after games. When it was affecting my ability to do my job for my teammates I knew it was time.
"It's hard to accept but it's something I had to do for my children and wife and family. I have pretty active kids so I need to be able to chase them around the park.
"But I'm really excited for the future."
"The last thing I want to do is be a passenger out there."
Winterstein made his first-grade debut with Brisbane in 2009 and joined the Cowboys in 2011, playing nine games for Samoa including the 2014 Four Nations and the 2013 World Cup.
He also won a premiership with the Cowboys in 2015. He has scored 97 NRL tries.
It's a glowing resume for the 30-year-old, but he said the opportunity to inspire people to achieve their dreams has been the highlight.
"I've accomplished what I wanted to do in this game and to be honest it wasn't about milestones or winning the grand final, they came as a bonus for me," he said.
"It was being an example for my younger siblings, my cousins and kids from all walks of life that if I can do it you can do it too.
"You can do anything you put your mind to by applying a bit of discipline and sacrifice and hard work, you can do anything you want.
"That's my main goal. I was able to do that and I'll continue to do that."
Cowboys football manager Peter Parr paid tribute to Winterstein as tough, and one of the most underrated players at the club.
"Over the past few years he's played here, he's been one of the main contributors to what's happened at the club, not only the way he's played but how he has conducted himself. It's been one of the great Cowboy careers," Parr said.
"We wouldn't have been able to achieve everything we have without him.
"I don't think he's been undervalued on the field. Off the field we've had some great leaders, but this fellow in the background has done wonderful things for our culture."