Photo: BRENDAN ESPOSITOAsked what has been his main motivating factor for a stellar career in the Red V, Ben Hornby answered simply and succinctly in a way only Ben Hornby can – ‘‘my family’’.
And with that came the only type of emotion Hornby would display in a press conference where he announced his 271-game career was coming to an end.
Ben Hornby: A career in pictures
It told you basically all you needed to know about the Dragons’ heartbeat – their captain, their premiership winner, their all-time games record holder and most importantly family man.
‘‘I can’t say enough good things about Ben,’’ coach Steve Price told the Mercury.
‘‘One thing I like about Ben is he’s a straight shooter. He’s honest and he’s straight down the line. To sacrifice another year on his contract shows what type of man he is.
‘‘He’s going to be missed.’’
Hornby will hang up his boots alongside fellow stalwart Dean Young following St George Illawarra’s round 26 clash with Parramatta.
“It is a difficult time and decision to walk away from the game but having played footy since I was nine and had 13 seasons in first grade I have decided that it is time to move on,” Hornby said.
“Whilst physically I could probably continue, mentally I have had enough.
“I feel like I have achieved everything there is to achieve in the game and it is not fair to myself, my team mates or the Club to continue if I can’t commit mentally to the level required to play in the NRL.’’
The Dragons officially fell out of finals contention after last night’s 32-22 loss to the Cowboys.
Speculation had mounted Hornby wouldn’t see out his contract at the Dragons, due to expire at the end of 2013, after an indifferent year and reports St George Illawarra courted Queensland and Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk.
Hornby’s departure will mean Price’s re-building of the Dragons will be fast-tracked with the exits of Young and Newcastle-bound Beau Scott.
Hornby led St George Illawarra to their first premiership as a joint venture in 2010 and broke Norm Provan’s all-time games record (256) for the Dragons earlier this season.
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