Leeds Rhinos star announces shock retirement as quota spot opens at Headingley

Leeds Rhinos have announced that former New South Wales State of Origin forward Matt Prior has announced his retirement at the age of 35 after three seasons with the Rhinos and after picking up their Player of the Year award in 2020 as the Rhinos claimed the Challenge Cup that season.

The two-time NRL Grand Final winner will retire with immediate effect with his final competitive game for the Rhinos having been the Betfred Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford back in September.

Prior had signed a two-year deal in 2021 to keep him at the club until the end of 2023 a decision made when Prior was in red hot form. But after one year he leaves the club opening up a quota spot at Headingley.

The 35-year-old prop has played over 250 games in the NRL and played for New South Wales in 2018. A NRL Grand Final winner in 2016 with the Sharks, he won the Challenge Cup with the Rhinos in 2020.

Originally from Wollongong, Prior played his junior rugby at Thirroul Butchers before signing for his home town club of St George Illawarra Steelers in 2006. He made his NRL debut in 2008 and won his first NRL Premiership with the Dragons under Wayne Bennett in 2010, coming on off the bench in the Grand Final win over Sydney Roosters. The following year, he started at loose forward as the Dragons defeated Wigan Warriors at the DW Stadium in the World Club Challenge.

He played 63 games for the Rhinos, scoring seven tries in his three seasons at Headingley.

Commenting on his intention to retire, Prior said, “It’s a decision I haven’t taken lightly but to finish with the Rhinos in a Grand Final seems like a fitting way to bring my career to a close.

“I’ve been fortunate to play for so long in the NRL and Super League without too many injuries and I can look back with so many good memories.

“My last three years in Leeds with the Rhinos have been especially good for me and my family. I would like to thank all the players, staff and fans for their welcome and support,” added Prior.

Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington added, “Matt will retire with everyone’s best wishes having served the team and club so well over the past three seasons. His retirement will now provide an opportunity to recruit another senior player to the squad, if need be.”

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