Rob Massam has retired from professional rugby league after a failed head injury assessment forced him out of next week’s League 1 Play-off Final.
Massam had put the North Wales Crusaders in the lead against Hunslet yesterday after just 26 seconds in the Final Eliminator, and his side ended up winning 25-18 at South Leeds Stadium.
However, he was forced off the field in the 56th minute after trying to stop Hunslet’s Adam Ryder from scoring.
It’s just that Massam scored a try in what became his final career outing. It was his 212th professional score in 246 games and only 18 Welsh internationals have scored more in their professional rugby league career. It was his 178th try for North Wales Crusaders, which is where he made 194 of those appearances. He scored 33 tries in 50 appearances for Rochdale Hornets and one try, in the 2013 World Cup, for Wales in his two capped games.
Posting on social media last night, Massam said: “And that’s a wrap. It’s not exactly how I wanted to end my time with the Crusaders, but at the same time, it’s exactly how I wanted to.
“As a club we’ve had nothing in our favour, from training, to not having a home ground to play at, to having so many injuries you couldn’t even write it, and here we are, in the final playing for promotion.
“What a way to end it, with my final try in the bag, out of my 200+ this was my favourite too.
“All that adversity as a group has created what you saw today, never underestimate the underdog that’s all I’m going to say.
“However Today has made my decision easier. It was my first ever experience of a serious head injury. To find myself running round the pitch feeling lost, unsure as to what needed to do or even where I was, it’s freaked me out I’m not going to lie.
“I can’t fault the coaches, they were incredibly clinical in looking after me. I now understand why head injuries are dealt with like they are. It’s not how I wanted to end my journey but the job isn’t done yet for the lads (who have) one more game.”
North Wales Crusaders, who thoroughly deserved their win, led for much of the game but found themselves trailing 18-14 thanks to that Ryder try as the contest headed into the final quarter.
But a spilled bomb by the otherwise near-faultless Alfie Goddard gave the visitors’ Toby Hughes the chance to send Kieran Taylor over out wide.
North Wales fullback Owain Abel, the player of the match, made no mistake with his own effort, on 73 minutes, and victory was sealed when Cole Oakley crashed over with three minutes left, Abel adding the extras.
“Rob’s injury was the only negative for us,” said Crusaders’ player-coach Carl Forster, who had himself set up Matt Reid for the side’s second try, which came on 14 minutes. “That’s now Rob’s last game but we’ll be pulling everything out for him at Doncaster.
“Two weeks, even two hours ago no one would have given us a chance of reaching the final but here we are. We’ve had nothing to lose during our run and we’ll go to Doncaster with the same approach.”
Thanks to Phil Hodgson of Rugby Leaguer and League Express for the match report section of this article.