It was far from the ideal way to finish a rugby league career, but Jermaine Ale knows it is now the right time.
The 34-year-old former NRL player will undergo surgery next month after rupturing his left Achilles tendon late in Central's 38-6 loss to Souths at St John Oval on Sunday.
"That's definitely it," the Mayfield-based miner said.
"If I was 24, not 34, I'd give it a go but as much as I love playing that will do.
"There comes a time for every player and, although I don't want to finish like that, I know this is right for me."
The father-of-two hadn't expected to line-up for the Butcher Boys again this year but, having returned from a bicep issue, completing the pre-season and down a few troops, opted to dust off the boots once more.
There were three minutes remaining in the Newcastle RL season opener with Ale, who suffered the same injury on the opposite leg when captaining former club Wests in 2014, about to take the ball up.
"I'd done the same thing before, but on my right foot, so I knew exactly what it was," Ale said. "It's a pretty unforgettable sound and quite loud. A few guys around 25 metres away said they heard. It's like a shotgun."
Ale played juniors with Waratah, Wests and the Knights before moving into seniors via NRL clubs Newcastle, the Roosters and Canberra, including four first-grade games in 2005.
After coming home, the now miner won four premierships with Wests between 2007 and 2017.
"I was very lucky," he said.