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31 hours ago
Colin Ward is only getting paid a dollar for it, but his final game of rugby league will be priceless.
Ward's career seemed to come to a disappointing end when coach John Lang left him out of Penrith's victorious grand final team last year and he headed into retirement.
But Lang gave the veteran prop the chance to see out his career in style when he asked him to pull on the boots one more time, in Friday's World Club Challenge against English champions, Bradford.
To be eligible, Ward had to be contracted to the Panthers for 2004, so he signed a $1 deal and trained all summer for what he hopes will be a world club championship farewell.
"It's just a bonus for me to finish in a game like this, but if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it properly," Ward said.
"I've trained all through the summer for one game."
Lang brought Ward, 33, to Penrith Park after a career which started at Easts in 1991 and took him to the Gold Coast and St George for whom he played in the 1996 and 1999 grand finals.
Missing out on a premiership last year was a tough way to end a 198-game career.
"It was a very tough thing to take," he said.
"I'd been playing for 14 years and played in two losing grand finals, so it was hard in what I knew was my last year to watch the team I'd played for when they were struggling to win the big prize."
Lang called Ward up when Scott Sattler's move to Wests Tigers and Trent Waterhouse's elevation to the starting pack opened up a place on the bench.
"Col's had a bloody great career," Lang said.
"I remember when I first came to Penrith, we felt we were a bit short in the front row. I met Col and I said 'I'm not looking for anything flash, I'm just looking for a bloke who can do a job' and he said 'I can do a job'. And he's done the job.
"He's just your classic professional footballer who puts in at every training session, every game. It's a fitting way for him to finish his career.
"He was unlucky to miss out on the grand final, but everyone was fit and it was hard."
Ward won't have to look far for advice on how to invest his 2004 rugby league earnings when he returns to the office later this month to resume his career as a financial adviser.