Murwillumbah Mustangs' storm-trooper, Lionel Foster, has hung up his well-worn boots after serving in the herd since he was a little 'un.
Earlier this week, the 36-year-old told new captain-coach, Damien Quinn, his body 'just can't handle the knocks and bumps' and was telling him 'time, gentleman, please'.
Foster commenced training with the club before Christmas and was back at Stan Sercombe Oval after the resumption of training following a short break, but he soon realised his body was telling him enough was enough.
Foster had perhaps his best season for the Mustangs as the club stormed to first grade premiership honours in 2012.
Always a crowd favourite, the big man always elicited cheers when he ran onto the field because he was always one soldier who would 'stand and deliver'.
Mustangs president, Nigel Lofts, said everyone at the club was saddened by Foster's departure.
"But 'Ox' isn't lost to us - I know he'll be at the ground - beer in hand - and cheering us on wherever we play," Lofts said.
"Lionel has been a wonderful servant for Murwillumbah - as well as being a quality footballer he was a great clubman - the bloke's a champion!"
Quinn has also been informed that towering prop, Lynden Murphy, is also retiring.
"He's put in his resignation but I haven't accepted it yet," Quinn quipped.
"I'll be working hard on him to reconsider over the next few weeks and I have a sneaking suspicion I might be successful."
Other losses from last season's first grade squad are the highly promising props Tim James (Bilambil Jets) and Sam Ross (Tweed Heads Seagulls QCup squad) and smart centre, Michael Keating who has accepted a teaching position in Far North Queensland.
Better news for the club is the signing of a number of classy footballers - a few old hands and a couple of new faces.
The old hands are powerfully-built Fijian backrower, Wise Kativerata, who played for the Mustangs in 2001 before moving the St George-Illawarra Dragons and has since been involved in coaching with the Australian Institute of Sport, stocky and super-fit backrower, Nick Forrester back in God's Own after a few years travelling overseas and fleet-footed centre-winger, Brett Corcoran who has returned to the game after a break of 10 years.
The new faces belong to James Lagiloa, a Fijian mate of Kativerata who has abundant speed and can play either centre or wing and a Kiwi centre, Sio Alefosi, who, according to Quinn, is "built like a tank and get really get over the ground."
The Mustangs will have a trial match against Gold Coast second division club Parkwood at Murwillumbah Brothers ground on March 2 and the following week they head up to the Gold Coast to play Runaway Bay in a final trial before the start of the new Northern Rivers Regional Rugby League season.
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