General Skandalis not ruling out NRL return

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The last of the fibros, John Skandalis, is not ruling out a return to the NRL as a 32-year-old when his two-year deal with English club Huddersfield is over.

Skandalis, the last Western Suburbs player left in the merged Wests Tigers squad, said a comeback was possible, but only with the same club.

"You never say never, look at Craig Smith, he came back from England at 34 and is playing great football for Newcastle," Skandalis said.

"Ask me in two years time and I'll let you know, I'll see how the body's holding up.

"It won't be ending my career with any other club definitely, I can't see myself coming back to play for any other NRL (club).

"If Wests Tigers amazingly called me back in two years time, ask me then, I'll see what happens."

Smith, who turns 35 this year, has defied the toll rugby league takes on the bodies of its forwards since returning from a three-year stint with Wigan.

Canberra's 34-year-old five-eighth Jason Smith has just decided to play on another year with North Queensland, having returned from England last year, while his 33-year-old teammate Jason Croker is deciding between deals with the Raiders and French side Les Catalans.

Skandalis will return to the place it all began, Campbelltown Stadium, for possibly the last time against Canberra on Sunday in what is probably the Tigers' final chance to snatch a top eight spot and mount a defence of their premiership.

He said it would be more disappointing to lose to the Raiders than to play his last match at the ground he debuted on for the Magpies in 1996.

"We haven't given up on our chance to make the finals and to go out a winner in the last game at Campbelltown would be great," he said.

"But to lose and miss out on the semi-finals and a chance to defend the premiership in the finals series is going to be, I think, more disappointing for me."

Skandalis, who will play his 228th first grade game on Sunday, said the merger of Wests with Balmain in 2000 had caused him to re-think the passion he held for his club.

"Honestly, I probably had more for Western Suburbs," he said.

"It probably took me a week or two to grow into it, every fan that accepted it made it easier for me.

"Western Suburbs was obviously my first home, but Balmain is definitely my second home.

"I don't see that anymore, I see it as Wests Tigers."

Scoring the merged club's first try ever and winning a premiership last year also went a long way to him embracing the new era.

"That (the premiership) was it, I think that was what sealed it," he said.

"That brought a lot of people who were, not negative about it, but still didn't believe in it, that brought a lot of people together and now they believe."
 

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