Nigel Plum says it was the right time to pull the pin on his NRL career

Farewell: An emotional Nigel Plum celebrates with his family after playing his 150th and final NRL game at Pepper Stadium, Penrith on Saturday. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Farewell: An emotional Nigel Plum celebrates with his family after playing his 150th and final NRL game at Pepper Stadium, Penrith on Saturday. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Retiring Penrith Panthers forward Nigel Plum said he is proud of himself for being smart enough to pull the pin on his NRL career at the right time.

The 32-year-old shocked coach Ivan Cleary and his team mates by announcing Saturday's 24-10 win over the New Zealand Warriors would be his final game.

Plum had made no secret of his plans to hang up his boots at the end of the season, but a series of recent head knocks and concussion saw the hard-hitting veteran call time with three rounds remaining.

Fittingly, Plum was sent out a winner in what was also his 150th career game, but he said the result was not a factor as his decision had already been made, following a training session last Friday.

"I had two head knocks, back-to-back weeks against Souths and the Roosters and I didn't think too much of them, but it was only a couple of weeks later, we played the Raiders and I got a heavy knock," he said.

Injury concerns: Nigel Plum leaves the field with a neck brace during the round 20 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Pepper Stadium. Picture: Renee McKay/Getty Images.

Injury concerns: Nigel Plum leaves the field with a neck brace during the round 20 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Pepper Stadium. Picture: Renee McKay/Getty Images.

"For about four days after that game, every time I sneezed or coughed, I had pressure in my head. That did scare me a little bit and during that week I did consider retiring then."

Plum decided to hold off his retirement momentarily, but said he would stop if he suffered any more head knocks.

"I really hoped I wouldn't, I really wanted to play the last couple of games, [but] I copped a little knock in the last session on Friday," he said.

"It was just a little head knock with one of the boys, there wasn't much in it, but it stunned me for about five seconds, [I was] a bit dazed.

"That made me realise that if something like that could happen, literally at half-pace, if something like that happened in a game, who knows where I could end up?"

Plum said it was an emotional time playing out the final minutes of his career, before notifying his team mates of his retirement.

"I can't really explain the feeling; knowing that once that whistle went, it was the end," he said.

"We were attacking the line there with about five minutes to go and I looked up and though 'wow, this is really it'."

Run hard, tackle hard: Nigel Plum built his career around a simple philosophy. Picture: Getty Images.

Run hard, tackle hard: Nigel Plum built his career around a simple philosophy. Picture: Getty Images.

Plum will continue to train with the squad members in rehabilitation for the remainder of the year, but exactly what is in store for the future is still up in the air.

Earlier in his career, Plum had hoped to go back home to Wagga Wagga to captain-coach in bush footy, but he is now hoping to remain in Penrith, in some form of role with the Panthers.

While he may have wanted to captain-coach in Wagga, don't expect to see him on the coaching staff at the Panthers any time soon.

"I probably couldn't be a coach, because I'm too relaxed," he said.

"I love my footy, but you can see a lot of players out there that would be ideal coaches, because they know the game inside out. But I know my role, run hard and tackle hard, that's how I built my career."

The story Nigel Plum pulls pin on school of hard knocks first appeared on Penrith City Gazette.

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