Girdler may retire at season's end

Penrith look set to lose former test centre Ryan Girdler at the completion of this season with the club veteran planning to retire, according to a Sydney newspaper.

The Panthers will also lose forward Martin Lang at the end of the year, the son of coach John already confirming plans to retire well before the season began.

Girdler has been plagued with injuries in recent seasons and will play his first game of 2004 against the Sydney Roosters at Telstra Stadium tonight after recovering from an illness.

While he is yet to make a final decision, Girdler says it may be time to hang up the boots.

"I want to speak with Shane Richardson first but [retirement] isn't something I am shying away from,? Girdler told The Daily Telegraph.

"Injuries have knocked me around a bit and maybe the signs are there."

Girdler, who has played 215 first grade games and a number of test and State of Origin matches, realised his career dream last year when he was part of the premiership winning Panthers outfit.

31-year-old Girdler, who is one of the Panthers most popular players, started his career with Illawarra before moving to the Panthers in the mid-90?s. Since then he has become an incredible point scorer, breaking club and Origin records when at the height of his career.

The loss of Girdler and Lang will free up some money for the Panthers, who will most likely be looking to purchase at least one high quality player during the next off-season.

That said, the Panthers have a wealth of treasures in the backline ? with class players Brett Howland and Paul Whatuira forced out of the Panthers? starting line-up to the quality of players the team posesses.

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