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No All-Stars league last hurrah for Presto

Laine Clark 31/08/2011 08:57:15 PM Comments (0)

A last hurrah in the 2012 All Stars game has been ruled out by Preston Campbell - although the Gold Coast NRL veteran admits he is still getting his head around saying goodbye.

The Titans have plenty to play for in Saturday night's Skilled Park clash with Parramatta as they bid to stave off the wooden spoon.

But the stage was already set for a memorable clash with favourite son Campbell using the regular-season finale to draw the curtain on his remarkable 14-year career.

Campbell, 34, was prone to changing his mind about retirement before finally drawing a line in the sand recently.

And while Campbell was clearly coming to grips with bidding farewell this weekend, he dismissed the notion he could turn out for one final hit-out in an event he helped create - the All Stars weekend.

"No - the All Stars game for me personally was about giving new guys a run," he said of appearing in the traditional NRL season opener.

"It was about giving guys a chance to play for their state or country by showing their wares against the best footballers in the world."

Campbell and Titans boss Michael Searle helped inspire the All Stars clash, an event that has taken on a life of its own since the 2010 debut.

So much so that NRL boss David Gallop can't guarantee that it will stay at the Gold Coast after next year.

Gallop recently attended a special media conference in Brisbane to detail the stunning impact of rugby league-based school to work programs in indigenous communities that the All Stars game had helped set up.

Money raised by the 2011 game alone helped clubs take education, reading, mentoring, leadership, goal-setting, health and welfare programs to more than 24,000 students of all cultural backgrounds.

Campbell might have won a Dally M Medal and a NRL premiership (with Penrith in 2003) but the wily playmaker rated the All Stars concept as his "highest achievement".

"It is changing the way people are looking at each other - whether you are indigenous or non-indigenous," he said.

"It is changing lives - and I am very proud to be a part of that."

After starting his career for the now-defunct Gold Coast Chargers in 1998, Campbell took great satisfaction out of ending his career at the same place he began it.

Not that it made his retirement any easier to contemplate.

Even an off-field role as an indigenous ambassador with the Titans next year could not soften the blow for the veteran.

"It hasn't hit me yet that I am finishing up this year," he said.

"I think once the game's finished, the emotions will start to hit.

"And when the guys come out for pre-season training, it will hit again because I will be around the club working.

"But I am looking forward to retirement.

"I feel satisfied with what I have achieved - that's all anyone can ask for when they are retiring."

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