LEIGH Centurions' Simon Finnigan has announced his retirement from his rugby league playing career.

The 32-year-old was born in Warrington but grew up in Australia, returning in 2003 to link up with Widnes Vikings.

After spells at Salford, Bradford and Huddersfield, Simon returned to Widnes in 2011 before joining Leigh Centurions ahead of the 2013 season.

He has also represented Ireland in successive Rugby League World Cups in 2008 and 2013.

Simon's playing career may be over, but he now embarks on a fresh challenge as he joins the Leigh Centurions coaching staff.

"It's with a huge amount of sadness I'm announcing my retirement from playing rugby," he said.

"Unfortunately injuries have played their part in my decision to call it a day.

"It's been my absolute privilege and pleasure to play rugby since I was 9 years old.

"I've met some wonderful people along the way and forged friendships that will last a lifetime.

"I'd like to thank all the fans that have supported me along the way especially those from Widnes, Salford, Bradford, Huddersfield and Leigh.

"To all the players, coaches and medical staff I've been lucky enough to be involved with I thank you all it's been an absolute ball."

"Id also like to thank Paul Rowley, Derek Beaumont and Steve Openshaw for giving me the opportunity to join the coaching staff and start the next chapter in my life.

"Finally to my family, my wife, Lisa and kids Abby an Tyler, I thank you for everything you have done for me over all those years it means a lot to have you by my side.

Leigh Centurions' head coach Paul Rowley said: "Simon has been what I consider to be a specialist second row forward during his long and very distinguished playing career.

"In his relatively short time with the club he has been a pleasure to coach, maintaining strong beliefs on how to play but remaining receptive and challenged by new or different methods and ideas."

"Simon will be retained by the club within the coaching set up working with the youngsters and retaining some involvement with the first team.

"I would personally like to thank him for playing his part in a memorable year and wish him the best of luck moving forward onto a new set of challenges."

Leigh Centurions' football director Derek Beaumont added: "Simon has been a great player in his career and a very honest one.

"That has become even more evident with the decision he has taken to step down from his long and fantastic playing career, perhaps for the first time ever putting his body before his mind."

"Simon is an intelligent player and deserves our utmost respect.

"His talent and personal qualities are too good to lose from our club and to that end I was more than happy to support Paul Rowley’s request to add him to his coaching team.

"It is no secret we are building towards a full time environment and super league status and part of that process involves establishing various commercial and coaching positions within our non-playing organisation."

"I am sure Simon will be a great acquisition to Paul's coaching team and will continue to add his input to the first team whilst helping to improve others around him. I, like Paul, wish Simon lots of luck in his new challenges at our club."