With everything going on with Covid-19 and the subsequently shortened Group 9 season, not every Tumut player was motivated to go around again in 2020.
As a result, Michael Clarke and Todd Broad, who were both integral to Tumut premiership success in 2019, have made the tough decision to take one season off from rugby league
Clarke will definitely leave a hole out wide for the Blues, with the outside back always up for a tough carry when working the ball out of trouble, but equally as gifted when finishing off a try.
Yet, injuries have troubled the 21-year-old throughout his career, with Clarke already needing multiple knee reconstructions.
“The main reason is definitely for the body, my knee mainly,” Clarke said.
“It hasn’t really given me any trouble since my last operation but I just feel it needs a bit of a rest. I think a lot of people forget, or don’t know I’ve already had two knee reconstructions.”
Clarke hopes having this year away from the game results in him being able to represent Tumut in the tough Group 9 competition in future seasons.
“I want to be playing for a few more years yet; I think it would always be tough to have a year off no matter what. I will have a hard time watching,” Clarke said.
“I thought this year would be a good time to have a break, since we weren’t even meant to be playing really and the competition is only eight rounds, so it wouldn’t be too bad.”
For Broad, it wasn’t an injury-forced decision, but more a chance to have one year off after a long period playing for the Tumut Blues.
“I’m just taking the year off, I’ve played footy flat out since I was kid,” Broad said.
“I needed a break from playing and this Covid thing has done that for me, I just couldn’t get keen to play, so I decided to take the full year off and come back rejuvenated to play footy again.”
The 27-year-old reiterated it wasn’t retirement but the young father said it did give him a chance to spend more time with the family before returning next season.
“I’m still young, so it’s not retirement, it’s just a break,” Broad said.
“I’ve got a little family now as well and I am loving the extra time I get to have with them. Dean (Bristow) and Hook (Lachlan Bristow) are some of my closest mates and they understood totally, so it made my call that bit easier.”
Dean Bristow said he understood why Clarke and Broad had decided to take the season off and only hoped they would turn out again in 2021.
“I completely understand where they are coming from. I struggled myself to get motivated for this season,” Bristow said.
“I hope they have a year off and get their body and minds right and are keen to go next year.”
The Blues coach admitted that both players would be hard to replace and said the club was working hard on finding some replacement players in the coming weeks.
“I think we will be okay; they are two integral parts of our squad but hopefully we can announce a couple new signings in the next week,” Bristow said.