Jake Mamo’s shock decision to retire from rugby league was confirmed yesterday by interim Castleford Tigers Head Coach Andy Last.
When Last came into the vacant role on an interim basis Mamo was out of the side already.
The former Huddersfield Giants and Warrington Wolves outside back joined the Tigers after a brilliant 2021 season with Warrington where he cemented himself as a centre having previously been a utility player or a fullback in his days with the Giants.
He was a big signing for the Tigers replacing Peter Mata’utia who followed Daryl Powell to Warrington and replaced Mamo there.
Given the number four shirt, Mamo was unable to capture the form he had shown at Warrington in 2021 though there were glimpses.
Ahead of 2023 he was dropped to the number 21 shirt and admitted in interviews that he was now no more than a backup.
He did start the opening game of the season on the wing in place of Greg Eden and got over the whitewash and he was then sensational against Champions St Helens in Round Two except for being unable to turn his amazing breaks into tries.
Part way through that game he was taken off but when asked if it was down to performance then coach Lee Radford confirmed it was back spasms and would go on to say Mamo was “walking like Terminator.”
Mamo missed the defeat to Wigan Warriors in Round Three which would prove to be his last in charge.
Rumours then circulated that Mamo wanted a release from his deal ahead of the Round Four game against his former side Huddersfield Giants.
It was then reported that he wanted to retire though Andy Last pushed against this but today ahead of their game against Leeds Rhinos confirmed that Mamo was retiring to BBC Radio Leeds.
Mamo is a terrific character and always used to provide some hilarious moments when interviewed on Sky Sports.
However, looking back at one of those brilliant interviews, some comments stick out.
Mamo has retired because of a back injury as well as persistent head knocks and back in 2020 he joked:
“They’re a pretty tough side, they’re quite aggressive. Few scrapes on me there so I had a chat to the ref there and he sorted me out with some penalties for head high tackles.
“Tell you what, I’m thinking of maybe retiring early because I am getting hit in the head so often.
“So if the referees could watch that, that would be nice.”
The question this raises is does this highlight an issue for the modern game of rugby league?
Players are retiring early more and more because of head knocks and Mamo was clearly unhappy about it back in 2020 and nothing has changed despite the clamp down from the top on contact with the head.
It also begs the question if the sport needs bigger changes to protect players like Mamo.