Australia coach Tim Sheens says Jharal Yow Yeh would have been a mainstay in his Test side for many years had it not been for the injury that has ended his career.
Yow Yeh announced on Monday he’d lost his battle to recover fully from the compound ankle fracture he sustained in 2012 against South Sydney in Perth.
After 10 operations, that have left him with a noticeable limp, the 24-year-old finally conceded defeat in his bid to play in the NRL again on Monday.
“It’s a real shame, he is a great kid and a player who would have had a long Test career for many years,” Sheens told AAP.
“He played for state and country at a young age and I wish him well for the future.”
Yow Yeh burst onto the scene at the start of the 2009 season as a powerful 19-year winger and announced himself as a new force in the game by scoring the match-winning try in Brisbane’s 19-18 round one success over North Queensland.
Comparisons were immediately made with his centre partner Israel Folau and representative honours soon followed when he debuted for the Kangaroos in the mid-season Test in 2011 then Queensland.
That season was his break-out year, finishing with 14 tries as the Broncos went within one game of the grand final.
He also scored two tries in his debut Origin series as the Maroons claimed a sixth straight win, and named in the Kangaroos squad for the Four Nation series in the UK.
“I didn’t have that much to do with his development but he was good for me on that tour,” Sheens said.
“He scored in the final against England. I saw him at the season launch recently and he said he was hoping to still get back playing.
“But obviously that’s not been possible. It’s a real shame.”
Social media was flooded by tributes to Yow Yeh and former Broncos teammate Corey Norman said he was desperately sad at the news.
“I felt so sorry for him, he’s a good mate of mine,” the Parramatta five-eighth said.
“He was working hard and obviously two years out of the game is a long time trying to get that ankle right.
“But he obviously feels he’s not going to get back to where he was and that’s sad for him and the game of NRL.”
Despite the setback, Yow-Yeh remains positive about his future and is comfortable he did all he could to make the comeback that medics warned him was not possible.
“I wanted to give myself every chance of playing first grade again,” Yow Yeh told a packed media conference attended by the whole Broncos squad.
“I knew, deep down inside, that I had it in me mentally but not physically.
“It was a fact that my ankle just doesn’t want to agree with me anymore.”
He is now set to study and continue his involvement with the Broncos in an off-field role.
“It was not an easy decision but it was a satisfying decision to know that I had given it everything and I wasn’t going to go any further,” he said.
“I knew that in my head after I had done everything that I just wasn’t going to cut it.
“I’m happy this is off my back, the pressure is not there,” he said. “I feel comfortable.”