Parramatta Eels favourite Nathan Hindmarsh reckons he’s been approached by plenty of league fans in the off-season who shook his hand and said: “You’ve had a great career, good luck with your retirement.”
“I’ve copped it a few times, I even copped it on the weekend, so when you hear it you think, ‘shit, maybe it is time to retire if people are thinking it’,” Hindmarsh said.
But Hindmarsh said there was a lot to weigh up. His wife Bonnie has left the decision to him. A likely increase in the salary cap for 2013 – on the back of a new TV deal – will not sway him. And a chance to potentially break Darren Lockyer’s all-time record of 355 games – Hindmarsh sits on an NRL-high 307 games – is not a motivating factor.
Hindmarsh is one of several high-profile stars not contracted beyond 2012, with mate and fellow veteran Luke Burt, Ben Smith, Justin Poore, Fuifui Moimoi and Shane Shackleton also up for renewal.
Hindmarsh, however, will be the biggest talking point given his stature and profile at the club.
Part of any new deal for Hindmarsh would fall under the NRL’s long-serving player allowance, which is exempt from the club’s cap.
To prove his profile remains sky high, Hindmarsh was again selected for the All Stars game by the fans. He can not wait to train and play along side some of the game’s best.
At only 32, Hindmarsh has the potential to play another few years, but added: “You also have to think about the younger blokes chomping at your heels who are faster, stronger and more explosive. There’s still some life left in these legs. We’ve also got some good young talent coming through the club and blokes fighting it out for positions.”
Hindmarsh was aware his decision would generate plenty of headlines, and quipped: “Fuifui is the same age as me, but nobody is asking him anything (about retirement).”