Halifax hooker, Keal Carlile, has been forced into early retirement due to a heart condition.
Carlile, 29, saw a cardiologist last week after feeling unwell during the club’s Championship opener against Sheffield a month ago.
Carlile underwent open heart surgery in 2011 to replace his aortic valve but a scan last week revealed the replacement valve has suddenly narrowed, leaving Carlile with no option but to stop playing immediately.
Speaking to the Halifax Courier, he said “For nine years, I’ve had scans every six months and it’s been bob on, no issues at all,”
“I had a post-season check up in October, which was absolutely fine, trained hard through pre-season and felt good in the friendlies.
“Then against Sheffield in the opening league game, I just felt awful.
“I probably lied to myself a little bit that day; the pitch was heavy, they were rolling us down the middle and it was the first game.
“In training, I felt okay, but it happened again against Dewsbury and then in the Challenge Cup last week.
“I saw Grixy [Head Coach,Simon Grix] on Tuesday night and told him I needed to go and get it checked, went for a scan on Thursday and that showed the valve has narrowed considerably over the last four months.
“As it stands, it’s okay for normal life, but there’s no way it can cope with the stresses of playing professional sport.
“I need to think about my health, my family and my kids and also do what’s right for the team and the club, so I’ve been left with no choice but to retire immediately.”
Carlile said the news had come as a “shock”, but he reflected on a career that had almost ended before it began.
“I feel a bit cold about it at the moment, it’s a bit surreal,” he said.
“My emotions are a bit all over the place, because the game is all I’ve known since I was five years old.
“Telling my kids was tough, but it’s the way it is.
“It’s completely out of my control, which maybe makes it easier to accept. There’s nothing I can do to change it.
“In 2011, the first cardiologist I saw told me I would have to retire there and then, so to have had nearly 10 years playing as a professional is something I’m very proud of.”
After making his debut for Bradford Bulls in 2008, he went on to play for Huddersfield, Hull KR, Sheffield, Featherstone and Newcastle, before moving to the Shay last autumn.
During his career, Carlile made 195 career appearances, scoring 25 tries and kicking 96 goals.