Please don't go, Dell

Tell us it's not true, Dell. Tell us you're not really retiring. Look into that camera, give us a wink and a cheesy grin and confess that it has all been one big practical joke on the rugby league world. That would be just your style, Dell. Ever the showman. Ever the centre of attention. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced. You are not retiring. You are not turning your back on the fans who have either come to realise, or known all along, that our game needs entertainers like you. No, you wouldn't do that to us you cheeky devil. I bet only yesterday you put pen to paper for an exciting new 5-year deal with the Dragons that will take you into your forties and set an NRL precedent that may never be matched. Certainly not by a winger. No doubt your name will poll through the roof and be selected for the Indigenous v All Stars match. You will score a hat-trick and win the man-of-the-match award. But even then you won't make the announcement. That would be far too early to reveal that you are playing on. It's all about the drama. It's all about the headlines. It's all about the Dell. Rumours that you are still training with the Dragons squad right up until Round One will be laughed off on the Footy Show. Bennett won't select you on the Tuesday before the game. As a tribute to you, he will play along. An hour before kick-off is when it will happen. 'Sailor' will appear on the official team sheet. A media frenzy will ensue. People will stop work to talk about your amazing comeback... again. Yours will be hailed as the greatest premature retirement in the history of Australian sport. Others have lasted less time, but nobody has ever planned it from the very beginning. What a Dell-ightful stunt. Some might say I'm in denial on this. Some might say that it's time to move on. Time to let you work your magic off the field. But I can't let go that easily. Every time I listen to an interview with a player that isn't you, Dell, I am reminded of your importance to our game. Your willingness to talk it up, your eagerness to entertain. Yourself and Mad Dog are a dying breed. MacDougall will be with us another year, and we are thankful for it. Surely you won't sit back and let him beat you? If you retire, and he plays on, then he has outlasted you. It wouldn't be right. As far as I'm concerned the two of you should only walk away when you're so old you barely can walk away. Speed is overrated. Experience counts. Take a few more years off if you must. Relax, enjoy yourself, go travelling. Don't touch the cocaine, though. You could re-join the NRL in around 2012 with a new lease of life. I'll leave it up to you. It's your life, after all. Just don't leave us forever. Please, please, please. Oh don't make us beg Dell...

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