Melbourne Storm forward Bryan Norrie has announced his immediate retirement from rugby league.
Norrie, 30, made the difficult decision following medical advice on a neck injury. After a week of consultations with a number of surgeons and Melbourne Storm’s medical staff, Norrie was advised it would be in the best interests of his long-term health to retire now, despite having a year to run on his contract.
He departs the Club as one of Storm’s most respected and hardest working players and will be honoured at the Club’s Player of the Year awards tonight at Peninsula, Docklands.
Norrie said while the decision was tough to make, it was ultimately made for him after strong medical advice.
“It’s shattering and disappointing my career has come to an end, it was a tough decision to make, however based on the medical advice I’ve been given over the last week it was the decision I had to make and importantly think of my family and health first.”
“I have loved and appreciated everything rugby league has given me during my 11 year career.
“I will miss playing and running out with the boys each week, I am very thankful and feel fortunate to have been able to play for Melbourne Storm and for what I’ve been able to achieve at the Club.”
A premiership player, he leaves the game with 120 matches for Storm and a total of 180 NRL appearances representing four clubs.
He spent his early years at St George Illawarra, followed by two-year stints with Penrith and Cronulla. After being released by the Sharks at the end of 2009, he was preparing to return to bush football as captain-coach of the Wagga Wagga Kangaroos before Craig Bellamy and Melbourne Storm signed him for the 2010 season to help bolster their forward pack.
It’s his time at Melbourne Storm where Norrie became a permanent first grade player. Over his five seasons at the Club he has only missed six games since his Storm debut in 2010, testament to the front rowers professionalism and dedication.
He played an important role at the end of 2010 season when the Club underwent significant changes to its playing squad and, along with other senior players, helped rebuild the Club as it claimed the minor premiership the following year.
Norrie has achieved much in his five seasons wearing the purple jersey. He played in the 2012 premiership, the 2013 World Club Challenge victory over Leeds and has established himself as a leader and mentor for the Club’s young players. He played his 100th Club game in Round 5 this season sharing the day with great mate Ryan Hinchcliffe who celebrated his 150th game on the same day.
Norrie also acknowledged Bellamy and Football Director Frank Ponissi for the opportunity to play for Storm and his wife Kim for the unwavering support.
“I can’t thank Frank Ponissi and Craig Bellamy enough, particularly ‘Bellyache’ for giving me the opportunity to continue my career in 2010 and getting my confidence back to play quality first grade football.
“I’ve been able to play in a premiership at Melbourne Storm and make life long friends and I’m extremely grateful.
“I’d like to thank my wife Kim for her support during my career and for being willing to pack up and go wherever the opportunity was. I’m looking forward to spending time more with her and our two sons Brody and Zane,” Norrie said.
Storm Head Coach Craig Bellamy paid tribute to Norrie and the contribution he has made to the Club.
“It’s disappointing ‘Noz’ has had to retire suddenly due to a neck injury, however he’s made the decision in the best interest of his family and the Club supports him 100 per cent,” Bellamy said.
“Noz has been such a great player, our Mr. Reliable, and one of those guys you know exactly what you’re going to get from him on the field. He has always played well above his weight.
“He is a really good leader, well liked and respected. He doesn’t say much and instead leads with his actions and that’s the best kind of leader.”
Bellamy also described one of his most memorable coaching moments involving Norrie.
“After we won the Grand Final in 2012, I remember thinking, here is a guy who was about to retire and head back to the country, to see him come to Melbourne, work hard and do the things we expect our front rowers to do, to then see his happiness on face after the grand final is one of my most happy moments as a coach.
“Bryan Norrie has been a tremendous Melbourne Storm player.”
While playing football Norrie has always had one eye on the future, the qualified electrician is employed as apprenticeship mentor as part of the NRL’s "Trade Up with the NRL" program. In his role, Norrie gives young players support as they complete their apprenticeships.