After a huge Shute Shield career, Parramatta Two Blues captain Andrew Cox has retired as a player.
Despite being only 29, Cox tallied 182 games with 162 as captain of the Shute Shield side, breaking the club record for the most games as captain earlier this year.
The Kenthurst resident, who played all his junior rugby in The Hills, will stay on the field after taking up a whistle as a referee.
“I was thinking about retirement last year because of other opportunities have come up,” he said.
“I’ll be looking to continue refereeing next year and I thought the time was right this year that if I wanted to give refereeing a crack, I couldn’t wait until I was too far past it.”
Refereeing has become a passion for Cox and he has controlled lower grade matches before travelling to Two Blues games for the past couple of seasons.
After 10 years in first grade, Cox said he has had a positive experience during his time with the club.
“In my first year of playing grade, Parramatta was doing well with Leagues Club funding but then a couple of lean years when the funding stopped,” he said.
“There were two tough years then and we came out the other side as a really competitive team and made finals. Getting through that period was a real achievement. Off the field, I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed my time at the club.”
The Parramatta Two Blues bowed out of the 2017 season with an 80-31 loss to Sydney University, sitting second last with three wins, although Cox sees a bright future ahead for the club.
“It won’t take much to get things clicking,” he said. “We were just short of it last year and we weren’t able to push on this year for a number of reasons.
“With a club like Parramatta, it won’t take a lot to get them going and that’s something I’ve seen firsthand. I’ve gone from a team that’s finished second last to a team that’s finished fifth and made finals and there was not that much different between the two teams.”
Cox pointed to minor premiers Manly, who missed the finals last year, and Southern Districts as clubs who show that the rise is possible.