JHARAL Yow Yeh should look back on his playing career with a sense of enormous pride and accomplishment, rather than with any regrets about “what may have been”.
That is the assessment of Maroons coach Mal Meninga who, like the rest of the rugby league community, was saddened to see Yow Yeh finally call it quits after a long battle back from his horrific leg injury.
Yow Yeh announced that he was hanging up the boots after accepting his dream of regaining his Broncos, Queensland and Australian jerseys had become unattainable after one of the worst injuries seen on an NRL field in many years.
As always, Yow Yeh handled the announcement with class and dignity, and Meninga said the way the 24-year-old had handled a potentially devastating situation was a mark of his qualities as a person, not just a player.
“It goes without saying that this is a sad sequence of events for a young man who had an incredibly bright future in the game,” Meninga said. “But it was a really positive sign for Jharal that he handled his retirement announcement smiling and philosophical.
“He was remarkably brave to have fought back the way he did. To be walking, let alone to make it back onto a rugby league field was an incredible achievement.
“That he got to wear the Broncos jersey one last time in that trial in Redcliffe would have been a very special moment for him.
“And while making the decision to retire as a player must have been incredibly tough, the decision obviously sat well with him because he knew he had given it everything he had. He had left no stone unturned in trying to carry on, but the injury was just too severe.
“There is nothing more he could have done, and I think that is why he seemed pretty relaxed about making his announcement.
“Every player dreams of being able to leave the game on their own terms, but not everyone gets that massive dose of luck that you need for the fairytale story.
“But life is like that sometimes, and Jharal would now know that rugby league is only a small part of his life.
“He has a wonderful network of friends, a loving girlfriend and tremendous family support. None of that will change.
“People are drawn to Jharal because of who he is. The fact he can’t play football anymore is the door closing on just one element of who he is. He has a long and bright future ahead of him.”
Meninga said even though his career was cut short, Jharal could be justifiably proud of what he had achieved during his playing career.
“It would be easy to sit and wonder about what Jharal might have done, given his youth and potential, but he should never lose sight of the terrific achievements he made in the game.
“To have packed all of that into the time he had was remarkable. He should be as proud of himself as the rest of us are of him.”