Rugby league-Australia captain Cordner retires as concussions take toll

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(Reuters) - Australia captain Boyd Cordner announced his retirement from rugby league at the age of 29 on Monday due to the effects of repeated head injuries.

Cordner's decision comes a little over two months after his Sydney Roosters team mate Jake Friend, who was co-captain at the National Rugby League (NRL) side with him, cited head injuries as his reason for quitting the sport.

"My heart was telling me I wanted to play on, and I was doing everything I possibly could, but my mind and my head was telling me otherwise, it was dragging me the other way," Cordner said at a news conference on Monday.

"For once in my life and my career I had to put my health and my happiness first. It was an extremely tough decision to make."

Cordner has not played since sustaining a head injury appearing for New South Wales in the opening game of the 2020 State of Origin series in November.

The second row forward featured 20 times for Australia, captaining the Kangaroos since 2018, while also winning NRL Premierships with the Roosters in 2013, 2018 and 2019.

Cordner scored the only try of the Rugby League World Cup final in 2017 as the Australians defeated England and his retirement comes with the NRL clamping down on head high tackles this season.

"Boyd is one of the greatest leaders of men I have seen," his former Roosters coach Trent Robinson said, according to the NRL website.

"At any level of the game, I'm sure that every player who ever stood alongside Boyd would thank him for being the teammate and leader that he was."

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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