North Wales Crusaders hooker Karl Ashall has decided to call time on his playing career at the end of the 2021 campaign, meaning Sunday’s play-off with Doncaster will be his last home match.
Ashall is currently in his second spell with Crusaders and has racked up 97 appearances in his time with the club to date, crossing for 15 tries in the process.
After joining North Wales back in 2014 for his first spell, the 31-year-old helped them lift the 2015 iPro Sport Cup in Blackpool, before leaving for Barrow Raiders early in 2016.
However, Ashall returned to the Welsh club in 2018 and has been a regular in the side once again since, making himself a real favourite among the Crusaders fans.
Alongside his spells with North Wales and Barrow, the hooker has spent time with Swinton Lions and Halifax Panthers in the Championship.
On his decision to retire, Ashall said: “There’ll never be a right time and life without rugby league will be difficult.
“The decision is purely down to my family as I have a little one and I need to direct my social life more towards my son rather than rugby league, like I have done since I was seven.
“Getting my head around it is really difficult because the club and the fans mean so much to me.
“It’s like a family and I’ve loved my time here, especially playing under Muzza (Anthony Murray) and what he tries to feed through to the club.
“I’ve met friends for life at Crusaders and things like the iPro Sport Cup I’m still always talking about now.
“Rugby league’s been a big part of my life and I feel privileged to have been paid to do something I live.
“I didn’t know what would be the best way to finish but, with the season we’ve had and what we can still achieve, the club’s in a really good place.
“I’ll miss the lads and team so much, but I’d love to come back in some way, shape or form at the right time and who knows what the future will hold.”
Crusaders head coach Anthony Murray added: “He’s been instrumental to everything we’ve achieved at Crusaders in recent years.
“He leads by example on and off the field, he’s quite funny, keeps the banter going between the lads and makes sure spirits are up.
“Karl’s been a really good player and always works hard, going above and beyond for the team.
“I feel really lucky to have had a hand in his career. Myself, Alan and the rest of the coaching staff have had nothing but support from him so I’d like to thank him for that.
“He’s constantly delivered on the field and has had an excellent career.”
You can get behind Karl and the rest of the squad in the play-offs at Stadiwm ZipWorld this Sunday.