Colin knows best
HE may be 33, but no one would have argued with Colin Best had he decided to play on for one more year.
Certainly, that was what the Sharks wanted, knowing they were putting a squad together capable of winning that elusive first premiership.
But Best knew his time was up, confirming this week he would hang up the boots at the end of the season.
His distinguished NRL career has seen him rack up 254 games and 108 tries at four different NRL clubs.
Despite his age, this year has been one of his best, playing every game, running in seven tries and averaging 98m.
"I knew early last week I was at a stage of my career where I needed to finish up," he said. "I was grateful the club wanted me to stay for another year and physically I'm up to it. But mentally, I knew it was time to go."
Best made his debut in 1998 with the Sharks and played stints at the Dragons, Raiders and Souths before moving back to Cronulla last year.
He said his lack of a premiership ring actually helped preserve his career.
"I moved around a bit chasing a premiership," he said. "I never tasted one, but that helped keep me fresh."
Best said the Dragons' failure to beat the Tigers in the 2005 preliminary final was the standout memory when recalling just how close he came to winning a competition.
"That was probably the best team I played in, and we went in as the favourites," he said. "Maybe we suffered a bit of stage fright - there was a lot of pressure on us because we were expected to win."
Best said the Sharks' success this year made his decision to retire a lot easier.
"(Coach) Shane Flanagan and (football manager) Darren Mooney have worked so hard with coaching and recruitment and my hat goes off to them," he said. "I thought about it (retirement) all year and it's great to get it out there now and concentrate on the rest of the year.
"To play for another 10 weeks (and get a grand final appearance) is the goal. That would be a fairytale finish."
Even if that doesn't happen, fairytales will play a big role in Best's future.
The Sharks flyer and his wife Lara own the Best Kidz Early Learning Centre in the Sutherland Shire.
A and while a kindergarten might normally be the last place you would expect an ex-footballer to end up, Best said he was already excited about the prospect of working with the kids.
"I've always had an interest in owning my own business, and my wife studied primary school teaching," he said.