Payne retires from rugby league

Robbie Payne has retired from rugby league after playing for 33 years. Photo Lauren Strode.

Robbie Payne has retired from rugby league after playing for 33 years. Photo Lauren Strode.

Robbie Payne has decided to hang up his footy boots and retire one more time. 

Payne last retired in 2014 after 31 years of rugby league, but his retirement didn’t last long. 

“I was offered the first grade coaching job at Moss Vale and even though I was retired I decided to take it,” he said. 

“As the season drew closer we didn’t have enough numbers for the team. So I thought I’d strap the boots back on and help the club out.”

But Payne said this retirement will keep him out of the game. 

“This time it will stick. I’m way too old now, I struggle to sleep at night I’m in that much pain,” he said. 

“I’m almost 39 years old and that’s just way too old to be a footy player.”

Payne fist signed up to play when he was five years old with Leumeah Wolves. 

From under-12s to the under-14s he played for the Mini Magpies. At just 17 ears of age he went on to play for the under-21s in the SG Ball side. At 19 years old he was playing reserve grade. 

Payne reached the pinnacle of his career in 1999 when he played two games for the Western Suburbs Magpies in the NRL. 

After he moved to Wollongong Payne made the Illawarra representative team for four consecutive years and during that period won the Country Championships three times. 

Throughout his career he received a number of accolades and awards. In 2005 Payne was named Illawarra player of the year and was voted man of the match for Collegians in the 2007 grand final. 

Payne coached the Moss Vale Dragons this year and led them to the grand final against Appin. 

The team dropped out of first and reserve grade in the Group 6 competition at the beginning of the year and put in a lot of hard work to make it to the grand final. 

But it wasn’t meant to be for the Dragons who were defeated 28-10. 

“I was proud of the boys for the way we finished the season. To make the grand final was a good achievement and I was really happy with all of my 25 players.”

But Payne said his decision to retire came about after his age caught up to him this season. 

“I was really disappointed in my season. I couldn’t run and I wasn’t fit enough. After this season I knew it was time to stop,” he said. 

Although he will no longer play, Payne said his passion for the game won’t fade. 

“I'm definitely going to miss playing footy. It's one of things you don't grow out of. The head is still there, its the body that's given up.”

Payne said that he doesn’t plan on taking any future coaching jobs but will always be affiliated with the Rugby League community. 

I'm definitely going to miss playing footy. It's one of things you don't grow out of. The head is still there, its the body that's given up. - Former Moss Vale Dragons coach, Robbie Payne

“My two sons play so I will always be around. But for now I’m just going to have some time off to wind down and relax.”

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