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30 November 2019
Swinton Lions forward Ben Austin announces his retirement from rugby league on medical advice.
It’s with much sadness that we share the news that our talented and much respected forward, Ben Austin, has had to take the heart-breaking decision to retire from Rugby League upon specialist medical advice.
Having come through the Wigan Academy system, Austin made his debut at age of 19 in the same game as our current Head Coach Stuart Littler – a victory over Hemel Stags at Sedgley Park in March 2015.
Later that year Ben produced an outstanding personal performance as the Lions’ defeated Keighley in the play-off final which brought promotion back to the Championship.
In 2018, Ben created history by scoring Swinton’s first ever try on Canadian soil, and at the end of that season he made a landmark 100th appearance when the Lions beat Workington Town in another pivotal play-off final.
Sadly Ben’s 101st appearance, against Bradford Bulls in February 2019, would prove to be his last at the age of just 24.
Ben himself explained the situation. Austin said, “This is not the news I ever expected to be sharing or coming to terms with, but after a long talk with the surgeon last week he came to the conclusion that if I return to contact sport there’s around a 75% chance that I will need another operation on my neck in one to two years.
“Although my operation was a success in February, on further examination there are two more discs bulging in my neck and spine.
“The surgeon explained that with each procedure the success percentage is severely reduced, and if I did need the other two discs doing there’s a high chance it will be unsuccessful. With me having a little boy and a family to provide for its time to look at the bigger picture, I would rather give up rugby, as much as it kills me to do so, rather than run the risk of being unable to play with my son in the future.
“I’m heartbroken as I always had visions of retiring after a long career, but with every door that closes another one opens and I want to take this time thank all the players, coaches and staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. Thank you to the clubs I’ve had the chance to represent and the fans who have supported me over the years.”
Head Coach Stuart Littler paid tribute to Ben following the announcement. He said, “I am absolutely gutted to have to update everyone regards Ben’s unfortunate injury. Ben has been outstanding in his commitment to the Swinton club both on and off the field.
“He has been with us for five years and in that time has developed into a leader within our squad.
“Ben’s decision is totally understandable and we 100% feel that it’s the right one even though we know how much this will hurt him. Ben is a very likeable lad who just loves rugby so this decision was always going to be a hard one.
“As a club we must support Ben and his young family and this is something we intend to do. Ben has not just been a player for us, but is someone who I class as a personal friend. I am sure I speak for everyone involved in our club when I thank Ben for everything he has done for us.
“As I’ve said we will support Ben 100% and he is always welcome down at Swinton. With every negative there is a positive with the right mindset. Things are sometimes sent to challenge us. Ben’s family will also support him through this and I am sure more opportunities will open up for him in the future within whatever avenue he wishes to pursue. Thanks Benny, love ya.”
More information as to how the club will support Ben moving forward will be made available in due course, together with how Swinton fans can contribute. Thank you Ben for your outstanding contribution to Swinton Lions over the past five years.
Once a Lion, always a Lion.