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Melbourne Storm winger Marcus Bai is set to finish his playing career in the English Super League after accepting a lucrative two-year contract from Leeds last night.
Bai admitted his decision to leave the club he joined as a relative unknown in 1998 was the hardest of his career but simply found the offer from Leeds too rewarding to turn down.
?It?s an extremely hard decision to make but the offer made to me from Leeds was too good to refuse,? Bai said.
The 30-year-old Papua New Guinean believes the Storm will be well placed in his absence with several younger players coming through the club?s ranks.
?My family and I have made up our minds that we?ve got to move on but there are a lot of young players coming through the club that have already stood up this year,? Bai explained.
Since joining Melbourne from the Gold Coast Chargers Bai has been one of the club?s most consistent performers and is currently the record holder for games played and tries scored for the Storm.
?I?ve been through everything with this club and it will always mean a lot to me,? he added.
?I?ve experienced a lot of amazing things through the club and I will leave at the end of the season on excellent terms. Some of my very best memories are here with the Storm and that?s the way it will always be. ?All I?m concentrating on now is playing good football and getting the Storm in the finals.?
Storm executive director John Ribot paid tribute to Bai admitting the inaugural club member will be sorely missed in 2004.
?Marcus has been the heart and soul of this club for so long it will be extremely sad to see him go at the end of the season,? Ribot said.
?Basically the offer from Leeds is just too good for him to knock back and we know that they (Leeds) will not only be receiving a very special player but an outstanding person.
?Our doors are always open to Marcus and his family and once the season finishes we will wish him all the best for the future.?