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JJ Collins to depart Raiders

Canberra Raiders forward JJ Collins has made the toughest decision of his young NRL career, with the forward to depart the Raiders and return home to Queensland with his young family.

Collins, 24, has been forced to put his NRL career on hold due to the recent NRL shutdown as a consequence of the reduced NRL season.

With the season reduced and player's financial situations changing, Collins has made the call to return home for more family support and look for another opportunity in the future.  

“My partner and I have just had our first son and it although it was a tough decision, it was one that had to be made,” Collins said. “I’m really gutted to be leaving the club, they welcomed me last year when I first arrived, and I have nothing but respect for the staff and playing group.

“The drive is still there to play first grade footy, but at this time it’s important for me to do what’s best for my family, so we’ll head back to Queensland and I’ll look for some work and hopefully another opportunity presents itself in the future.

“It’s important for me to get into a routine outside footy as that’s all I really know, so I’ll get a job and if another opportunity comes, I’ll be ready.

JJ Collins receiving his club debut jersey in 2019 from Glenn Lazarus
JJ Collins receiving his club debut jersey in 2019 from Glenn Lazarus

Collins said his family comes before footy and wished the club all the best as they prepare for the upcoming season.

“If it was just my partner and I, we would have stayed, but having a young family I had to make the tough decision to put footy on the back burner and my family first, and to provide for them I guess is my main thing in life at the moment,” he said. “It’s going to be hard not training with the boys every day, they’re a great bunch of blokes and good playing group so I’m going to miss them.

“I think they’ll go pretty far this season and even go one better and take out the GF.”

Raiders Football Manager Matt Ford said the club wished Collins nothing but the best for the future and highlighted to impact the COVID-19 shutdown has had on several players at the club and no doubt across the game.

“JJ has been nothing but professional in his time at the club and its really disappointing that he’s been put in a position where he can no longer see footy as a viable option for himself,” Ford said. “He is the example of a player that’s been affected the most in this whole situation and he’s made the best decision for himself and his family at this time.

“I think it’s really important that people realise that not every NRL player is on big-money contracts and unfortunately good people like JJ are being forced out of the game. As a club, we wish JJ nothing but the best for the future and we hope he can continue his career in the future when he’s ready.”