LUKE Lewis pushed so hard to prolong his NRL career by even just a few extra minutes he almost tore his calf muscle in the process.
Lewis’ hopes of a fairytale farewell were ended in Friday night’s 22-6 preliminary final loss to Melbourne, bringing to an end his 323-game NRL career.
Having overcome a calf injury during the week to captain the Sharks, Lewis took a knock early in the game and was visibly injured in the second half.
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But with the Sharks’ lacking the likes of Paul Gallen and Wade Graham, he remained on the field and scored their only try before finally retiring to the bench with seven minutes to go.
“I got a hit on it pretty early in the first half. And as the game went on it was getting sorer and sorer,” Lewis said.
“And then obviously halftime comes and I got a bit cool, it got worse and worse. I tried to get through as much as I could.
“I was probably a dead marine to be honest, just standing out there. I wasn’t offering a whole heap to the side.
“I didn’t want to come off because I knew that was it. But it got to a stage with five minutes to go and I knew we couldn’t get back in the game.
“I had to listen to the coach towards the end there, and it was probably the right time to come off because I was pretty close to tearing it.”
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An emotional Lewis admitted he would likely shed a tear when he reflected on a career that included two premierships for Penrith and Cronulla, 17 State of Origins for NSW and 16 Tests for Australia.
A lively winger when he made his name at the Panthers in 2002, Lewis turned into one of the toughest second-rowers in the game in the second half of his career.
“To be brutally honest I’m pretty hollow,” Lewis said after Friday’s loss.
“I obviously wanted to play next week – it would’ve been a good way to finish up the career. To think it’s all over is pretty scary.
“It’s something I’m looking forward to with what’s next. There is a bit of fear there but some excitement too.
“I just feel like it’s all gone just like that.
“I think when I have time I will sit back by myself and reflect, I will probably have a little bit of a tear.
“Not in a bad way but probably just more a sense of accomplishment, but at the same time just to reflect on everything I’ve done.”