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REAL NRL: Seagulls stalwart Mitch Williams hanging up the boots

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It’s hard for any sportsman or woman to “call it quits”.

But, Mitch Williams simply knew the time was right.

The Lakes United Seagulls stalwart will run onto Cahill Oval with his Denton Engineering Cup team-mates on Saturday 5 August for his final battle.

And, he’s determined to go out a winner.

“I think it [retirement] really started hitting home the past week that my career was coming to an end,” Williams said.

“However, we’ll just enjoy the night on Thursday and then get into this weekend on Old Boys Day.

“It’s always pretty special for the club, particularly for my family.

“Dad (Paul) is a Life Member at Lakes.

“He played over 200 games for the Seagulls and coached as well.

“Plus, he contested – and won – a couple of grand finals.

“So, I’m here to do it in front of the home fans and my family.

“It’ll be a big occasion and, hopefully, I’ll go out with a win and sail off into the sunset,” he added with a laugh.

“Even though I’m still enjoying my footy, I’m 32.

“I don’t want to get half-way through next year and then regret it.

“Although, they’re pestering me to re-sign.

“But, it’s definitely time to hang up the boots.

“I’m pretty happy with the career I’ve had, all the mates I’ve made… and the memories.

“So, yeah, I’m ready for a new chapter.”

williams
Lakes United Seagull Mitch Williams will hang up the boots after this weekend. Photo: Rod Thompson

It’s fitting Williams will wrap it all up at Lakes United.

He started with the Valentine Eleebana juniors before progressing to the Seagulls.

The second-rower also experienced a five-year stint with the Newcastle Knights, then took the following season off.

He returned with arch-rivals Western Suburbs Rosellas, winning the 2013 decider, however a broken jaw – just before the semis – curtailed his chances of more success in 2014.

Williams spent another season on the sidelines, then joined Central Newcastle Butcher Boys.

However, a phone call from Lakes coach Ian “Bubba” Bourke – and the chance to “come home” – was too hard to ignore.

“I signed a two-year contract to finish my career here,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“That’s the thing I love about the Seagulls, it’s just a real blue-collar community… a massive family club.

“Even the girls, who’ve arrived in the past couple of seasons, have embraced that attitude.

“But, what Lakes is doing in Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League (Real NRL), I believe they’re going great guns.

“Our juniors are always up there and our under-19s are grand finalists almost every year.

“The reserves would be among the best teams, too, if they didn’t have to keep supplying players to firsts due to injuries.

“So, the future is definitely looking bright here.

“Bubba’s the right man for the job.

“He’s got Alan (Lantry) and Brad (Murray) under him as well, two good younger heads.

“They’ve been there, won grand finals and played a lot of first grade.

“And, when you’re sitting in the top three or four in the club championships, you know the Seagulls are heading in the right direction.

“So, watch out when firsts start to really hit their straps, which is hopefully next year.”

Young gun Jake O’Meley with retiring Lakes legend Mitch Williams.

Lakes has the opportunity to add to its win tally when it hosts cellar-dwellers Kurri Kurri Bulldogs this weekend in round 18.

However, Williams is not taking anything for granted.

“We’re aware they’ll be looking for their first scalp, they’ll be fired up,” he said.

“If we run onto the field thinking they’re just going to roll over, we’re kidding ourselves.

“It’s our Old Boys Day, so we want to produce a big performance for them and everyone else associated with the club.

“We’ve been playing well recently.

“It was a tight one against The Entrance on Sunday.

“We went down by eight (28-20) but we gave away a big start.

“You can’t do that against the teams, who are in the semis, like the Tigers.

“But, we’re definitely building into something nice here.

“Now, it’s up to first grade to put it all together.

“Hopefully, if we prevail on Saturday, we’ll finish three [wins] out of four to end the season.

“That will give the boys a good springboard into 2024.”

Tooheys Newcastle Rugby League

Denton Engineering Cup

Round 17 results:

  • Cessnock Goannas d Kurri Kurri Bulldogs 40-12
  • Macquarie Scorpions d Northern Hawks 50-6
  • Western Suburbs Rosellas d Wyong Roos 40-0
  • Maitland Pickers d South Newcastle Lions 24-10
  • The Entrance Tigers d Lakes United Seagulls 28-20
  • Bye: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys

Round 18 draw:

Saturday 5 August

  • 3pm: Lakes United Seagulls v Kurri Kurri Bulldogs (Cahill Oval)
  • 3pm: Western Suburbs Rosellas v Macquarie Scorpions (Harker Oval)

Sunday 6 August

  • 2pm: South Newcastle Lions v Northern Hawks (Townson Oval)
  • 3pm: The Entrance Tigers v Maitland Pickers (EDSACC Oval)
  • 3pm: Central Newcastle Butcher Boys v Cessnock Goannas (St John Oval)
  • Bye: Wyong Roos

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