Injury has forced Ballina second-rower Chris Long into early retirement.
Injury has forced Ballina second-rower Chris Long into early retirement. Mitchell Craig

End of a Long road for Seahorses’ stalwart

BALLINA second-rower Chris Long has been forced into early retirement ahead of the Seahorses’ clash with Bangalow in Far North Coast rugby union today.

The popular second-rower was hoping to play for a few more years before he was injured in the first game of the season and has since struggled with pain in his neck.

“I have a couple of bulging discs and some other neck issues,” Long said.

“It’s not the way you want to go out, especially when I wanted to keep playing.

“I’ve kept myself reasonably fit and it’s more about stopping now so I don’t have to live in pain later in life.”

Life membership honour

Long is so highly regarded at Ballina that he was honoured with life membership last season while he was still playing.

He also finishes just shy of 300 grade games after starting at the club as junior more than 20 years ago.

“There wasn’t even a junior competition when I started,” Long said.

“We used to play at Ballina every Saturday morning and they would split us up into teams of red, green, yellow and blue.

“I was only about nine or 10 at the time and I haven’t missed a season yet, so it’s a lot of years.

“I never did get that first grade premiership but I’ve played in plenty of good teams here.”

Down but not out

Long certainly won’t be lost to the game with him and his wife Jacquie doing plenty of work in helping run the club.

He will most likely be found serving drinks behind the bar or running water for senior grades.

“I really enjoy coming out here and I’ll be helping out where I can,” Long said.

“Life membership took me by surprise and to get it while still playing at the time is something I’m really proud of.

“It will be something a bit different for me now but I’ll definitely enjoy my Sunday morning swim a lot more.”

In other games today

> Lennox Head hosts Byron Bay at Williams Reserve, Lennox Head.

> Casino takes on Lismore City at Albert Park, Casino.

> Southern Cross University plays Wollongbar-Alstonville at Maurie Ryan Oval, Lismore.

Games start at 3.15pm.



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