Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs outside back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has paid tribute to his brother Malakai who announced his retirement from rugby league.
The older brother of the Bulldogs speedster confirmed on Thursday he would be ending his career following a diagnosis of kidney failure prior to Christmas while he was training with the club.
The brothers NRL journey started at the foot of the mountains when the two Penrith local juniors took to the field side be side for the Panthers in 2017 with the journey coming to an end together at Belmore.
Having looked up to his brother and idolised him, Dallin took to Instagram to congratulate Malakai on his career.
“It’s hard when one of the people you’ve idolised retires from something they love. But when he's your big brother, it hits different ❤.
“Congrats to my bro @malakaiwatenezelezniak on an awesome career, I was blessed to be there at the start and end of our childhood dream, his road to it was a hard one that not many people would know, but the rewards and memories he's given me and our family will be ones ill cherish for the rest of my life!! Time to kick the feet up big bro and have a rest, you deserve it ❤
“Bigger things are ahead anyways lesshgooooo🔥🙌🏾 @wzelezniakwatches.”
Meanwhile, Malakai took to social media himself to thank his family, teammates and explain the reasons behind his shock retirement.
“Where to begin...after a lot of thinking I have decided to hang the boots up,” he said.
“I got to fulfil a long-life dream of mine to play in the NRL and to do it with my little bro will always be something special. I debuted alongside my bro when it all started and I will retire next to him, I couldn’t think of a better ending.
“I started training with Bulldogs before Christmas and wow what an awesome club and great squad. The week before Christmas I had a little health scare and was admitted to hospital for acute kidney failure.
“After 4 days of being in hospital the image of my kids crying as they left me each night worried, stuck with me and gave me a lot of time to think.
“I went back to training as I wanted to focus on the season ahead but unfortunately it ended up with further complications again which made me realise that my health and family is more important which led to this decision.
The Bulldogs family wishes Malakai all the best in retirement.