After 10 ankle operations and two years of toil, Jharal Yow Yeh just had to concede his brave fight to return to the NRL would fall short.
Among the top finishers in the game in 2011-12, Yow Yeh’s horrendous leg fracture in Perth ensured he would never reach those heights again.
Despite a noticeable limp and the loss of his renowned pace and agility, the Brisbane Broncos winger did all he could to make the comeback that medics warned him was not possible.
But, on Monday, the former Test and Queensland State of Origin flyer admitted his body had made the heart-breaking decision for him.
“I wanted to give myself every chance of playing first grade again,” Yow Yeh said. “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.”
It was almost two years to the day that Yow Yeh suffered a sickening compound fracture when he crash-landed attempting to take a cross-field bomb against Souths at NIB Stadium.
At the time, leading Brisbane surgeon Dr Peter Myers rated it the worst injury he’d seen in football.
“If it was up to the doctors and physios he would have finished well before this,” proud Broncos coach Anthony Griffin said on Monday.
Yow Yeh played three Tests for Australia in 2011, selected for his Kangaroos debut before he’d represented the Maroons in an Origin series triumph.
Now set to study and continue his involvement with the Broncos in an off-field role, Yow Yeh could still rate his attempted comeback as a success.
He returned to play with junior club Norths Devils in the Queensland Cup late last season and also suited up for the Broncos one more time in the centres in this year’s trials.
“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 couldn’t have done it to my teammates to get out on the field and let them down. It wasn’t just stepping, it was everything.”
As a measure of the respect and regard for Yow Yeh at the Broncos, the entire Brisbane squad gave him a standing ovation at the end of his retirement press conference.
“I’m happy this is off my back, the pressure is not there,” he said. “I feel comfortable.”