After a career spanning more than a decade and including 109 Super Rugby caps, NSW Waratahs lock Sam Wykes has officially announced his retirement from professional rugby, deciding the time is right for him to step aside and begin the transition into life post rugby.
Contracted until the end of the 2021 Super Rugby season, Wykes’ season was cruelly cut short due to a bicep injury suffered against the Reds in Round 6.
Since the injury, the veteran lock has remained involved helping the coaching staff, running water, and mentoring the young locks in the side.
Wykes a proud West Harbour Pirate, started his career in the Waratahs Academy in 2007 making three appearances on a tour to England before joining the Western Force. Wykes made his Super Rugby debut for the Perth side in 2008 and went on to amass 87 caps.
Wykes would depart the Force and head to Japan, spending five years abroad playing in the Japan Top league for Coca-Cola Red Sparks, Panasonic Wild Knights, Shimizu Blue Sharks as well as the Sunwolves in Super Rugby.
The 109 Super Rugby capped lock said that while it was an emotional decision to bring an end to his career now, the timing was right to focus on his family and was grateful to finish his career in his home state.
“It definitely feels like time, the body just gave way over the last couple of years with some injuries and I wasn’t keen on chasing any more gigs overseas as I’ve got a small young family,” Wykes said.
“It was a short time here at the Waratahs, I’ve spent a lot of it on a bloody watt bike and in the rehab room, but I’m really grateful and appreciative to be back home in NSW.
“I’m stoked that I got a cap and I had an opportunity to finish up in my hometown and in front of my wife, kids, mum and dad and family members.
“It’s been a really good ride and I’m appreciative of It.”
NSW Waratahs Forwards coach Matt Cockbain praised Wykes’ role in the team since his season ending injury.
“As a senior player you’re expected to take the young blokes under your wing and he’s done that with our young locks, providing invaluable knowledge that he’s learnt from more than a decade playing in some of the best leagues in the world,” Cockbain said.
“He’s a very good team man, socially very good at including everyone and making sure everyone feels comfortable.
“He’s played all around the world for various teams at a high level and has always been spoken of very highly by his teammates, he’s one of the best.”
NSW Waratahs Co-Coach, Jason Gilmore was equally full of praise for the departing lock.
“He’s only been here for a short period, but Wykesy has been such an excellent contributor to our squad,” Gilmore said.
“He’s been an active part of our leadership group, sharing his experience and knowledge to our younger guys, and his ability to bring people together in a team environment is first class.”
Super Rugby Caps: 109 (87 Force, 20 Sunwolves, 2 Waratahs)
Points: 30 (6 tries)
Super Rugby Debut: 2008 Force v Cheetahs