24-year-old forward Keegan Hipgrave has announced his retirement from rugby league with immediate effect.
Hipgrave made the final call as he and the Eels reached out for substantial medical advice, following numerous concussions throughout his NRL career, the most recent taking place at the end of the 2021 season.
Eels General Manager of Football Mark O'Neill was bitterly disappointed with the outcome, however stressed that the wellbeing of the players is paramount in an official club statement.
“Keegan has been a wonderful addition to our Club and a very popular member of the team. While it’s a shame his career has prematurely come to an end due to injury, the health and wellbeing of our players is always our first priority," O'Neill said.
“We wish Keegan and his partner Izzy all the best of luck with their future.”
Hipgrave will hang up the boots with just 49 games to his name, having made his debut for the Gold Coast Titans in 2017.
He played just a single game in his first year, before becoming more of a mainstay in the Titans' outfit during 2018, managing 19 games during the season. Concussions then limited him to just 20 games over a two-year period.
He linked up with the Eels in 2021, playing just nine games for Brad Arthur's side.
Hipgrave was one of 18 Eels' players still off-contract when the November 1 deadline passed for players to be able to negotiate for 2023 and beyond, however, the decision to retire will put paid to that.
Parramatta have confirmed that they will assist Keegan with his transition from footballer to retirement following what can only be described as an early retirement.