Former Penrith and Wests Tigers winger Malakai Watene-Zelezniak has announced his retirement after a preseason health scare convinced him to end his rugby league career.
The 29-year-old was training with Canterbury alongside younger brother Dallin as he worked towards a full-time NRL contract with the club.
However, a week before Christmas he suffered acute kidney failure and was hospitalised, which forced him to change his priorities.
“I got to fulfil a long-life dream of mine to play in the NRL and to do it with my little bro (Dallin) will always be something special,” he posted on Instagram.
“I debuted alongside my bro when it all started and I will retire next to him, I couldn’t think of a better ending.
“I started training with Bulldogs before Christmas and wow what an awesome club and great squad.
“The week before Christmas I had a little health scare and was admitted to hospital for acute kidney failure.
“After four days of being in hospital the image of my kids crying as they left me each night worried, stuck with me and gave me a lot of time to think.
“I went back to training as I wanted to focus on the season ahead but unfortunately it ended up with further complications again which made me realise that my health and family is more important which led to this decision.
“I’m so grateful that the watch business is so successful that I can fall back on and transition into it full-time. I’m excited for the next chapter of my life and can’t wait to finally give it my full focus.”
Watene-Zelezniak played 31 NRL games across four seasons with both the Panthers and Tigers.