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Crocker ready for a new start with RLPA

Michael Crocker admits retiring from the NRL was the toughest decision of his life but the former Queensland and Australia enforcer is looking forward to the next chapter in his new role at the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).
Crocker ready for a new start with RLPA
by AAP

By Ian McCullough

SYDNEY, Oct 31 AAP - Michael Crocker admits retiring from the NRL was the toughest decision of his life but the former Queensland and Australia enforcer is looking forward to the next chapter in his new role at the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA).

The 33-year-old was forced to call time on his 13-year career due to an ongoing knee injury having spent the last five seasons with South Sydney.

His final campaign with the Rabbitohs saw him make just three appearances and it was during his long spell on the sidelines he realised his knee was no longer able to withstand the rigours of the NRL.

"I'd love to play until I was brown bread, but not playing throughout the year has probably helped me adjust because it hasn't been too much of a shock," Crocker told AAP.

"I had an operation early this year and I never really recovered from it.

"I went for a run a couple of weeks and it will still sore so I know I made the right choice."

Crocker's new role is as a player relations manager for the RLPA which will see him as the first point of contact with players from every club, making them aware of the services the association provides.

It was a position he was told about by close friend and former Souths teammate Ben Ross who he ending up beating for the job.

"Benny told me about it as I'd done a fair bit with the RLPA in the past working in education and welfare and it's something I am pretty passionate about," he said.

"It came down to us two for the job so I feel a little bit bad when I got it and he didn't."

With issues such as the ASADA inquiry, changes to the salary cap and continued discussions about head injuries and concussions, Crocker is expecting to have to hit the ground running when he starts his new role on November 11.

"I am holidays at the moment, so not really in a position to comment on the issues such as salary cap and ASADA yet," said Crocker, a 2002 premiership winner with Sydney Roosters.

"I'll definitely be updated with all that stuff when I start. But I do know the most important thing is that the RLPA, the NRL and the players all need to work together, and that's where I come in."

In the past the RLPA has been accused of not doing enough to help players, and although it has become far more proactive in recent years, Crocker said improvements still need to made to bring it in line with other codes.

The AFLPA is a very influential body and the NFL version in the US played a key role in securing a $765 million payout to 4,500 former players due to the mismanagement of concussions but teams and obscuring links between football and long-term brain injuries.

"We're heading in the right direction and it's about getting the players on board and making them understand we are there for them," Crocker said.

"If you look at what the AFL Players Association have got and also overseas with the NFL and the NBA ... we want to get to the level they're at."




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