The time is right for “hanging up my boots”…

… Second rower Shane Grady “The Grenade” announces his retirement.

Widnes born and bred, Shane Grady has enjoyed a successful career in in the sport we all love, but at the age of 33, he’s decided it’s time to give his body a break and spend more time with his young family.

Here we look back on Shane’s sporting success and learn more about his love for the game and his plans for the future…

Shane played for West Bank Bears until 2005/6 when he joined the Widnes Vikings Scholarship. After leaving school at 16, he was signed for Widnes Under 18s to play in the Academy, progressing to the first team when he was just 17.

He also played for London Broncos, Halifax and Dewsbury. “I was gutted that I wasn’t offered a contract when Widnes reached the heady heights of Super League,” says Shane, “so when the opportunity arose to spend some time in Australia, I jumped at the chance. Australia was unreal and one of the best experiences of my life. I went with my mates and loved every minute.

“The club I played for was Thirroul Butchers, a low tier club which was a new experience for me – I’ve always taken my rugby seriously, but Australia didn’t have the pressure of the Championship.”

During his time in New South Wales, he got the chance to tour with the club in Samoa and the team won the Illawarra League.

Since his return to England, Shane clocked up over 150 appearances to add to those in Widnes’ colours and made his 100th appearance for the Vikings in 2021.

The early days…

Shane didn’t have his sights set on rugby until he was in his teens. As a young boy, he was always playing football with his mates at the top of the street and played at school too, until he was 14. When he started High School, rugby was part of the curriculum, and he developed a love for the game straight away. “I owe my mum and dad a lot because they took me everywhere for training and matches and really did love to watch me play.”

Shane’s amateur career started at West Bank Bears, and he has fond memories of that club. “One thing that has stayed with me all this time is the first time I joined them to train. One of my mates was going to training with them and just said ‘come with us’, so I thought, okay, why not. As a grass roots club they didn’t have many facilities but I never expected that during winter training we’d use the car park at Morrisons! But we had the best time and I absolutely loved it. Footy was definitely a thing of the past!”

Growing up playing rugby, Shane played full back and then during his academy days played centre. It was when he moved to Halifax that he settled into the second row. “I’m a committed player and always give 100%,” says Shane. “I don’t feel I have a fixed position really – I’m not great at any so I fit in anywhere!” (Of course, he’s talking himself down there because we all know he’s a strong, reliable player and flexible across the park!)

Career highlights and achievements…

Shane says he’s loved every minute of Rugby League at every club he’s played. He says Rugby League is in his blood. “Australia would take some beating,” says Shane, “but, playing for my home team is absolutely my greatest achievement so far. I remember how I felt the first time I played for Widnes; it had been something I’d dreamt of. My family and friends were incredibly proud, and it was an unbelievable day.”

A big decision…

On his announcement that he’s going to retire, Shane told us it was a difficult decision and something he’s going to find hard to deal with. “I really do believe now is the right time,” says Shane. “I could have stayed on and had my testimonial in the future, but I don’t think my body would hold.

“Game week preparations have become tough for me. I’m getting older and the game really isn’t forgiving where my body is concerned. I might feel okay on Sunday but then by Monday I’m hurting all over. I worked with Neil, the coaching staff, and the rest of the squad, to devise the best strategy to get me game ready, but I’m not sure how much more my body can take. I must be careful in training and that can be really frustrating. And I’ve had seasons where I’ve had different injuries which kept me out for long spells.”

Besides giving his body a rest, Shane says he also wants to spend more time with his “amazing family” and be there whilst his two boys, 4-year-old Jaxon and 8-month-old Xander, are still young, and growing so quickly.

“I want to end my time loving the sport and loving the club. The thought of getting to a place where it’s not enjoyable anymore isn’t right for me, I want to end on a high, with a love for the game that has given me so much.

“So, this season will be my last, and I will step away from the game for a while before thinking about what’s next for me.”

Life at home is busy for Shane, with his two young boys, who keep him and wife, Jen, on their toes. Shane works in the chemical industry with local company, Vynova – “I love my job and am very lucky, I know. I also like to play golf and support Liverpool FC.

“We’ve been on a family holiday this year in a campervan, and it was so much fun with the boys. We want to do more of that and playing rugby every weekend just doesn’t make that possible. This is about making more time to do all these other great things that I love, outside of rugby.”

I’d like to think that I could have a future in the sport in a different role, but I know it’s hard to get into, but you never know, maybe in the future? Right now, it’s family time and we are looking forward to more adventures!”

Quickfire questions…

What are your future aspirations from a Rugby League perspective?

Rugby League gets under your skin and I’m sure there will be something for me in the future but right now my focus is elsewhere, so I’m going to step out of the sport for the next year.

Who is your all time Rugby League legend?

I would say Andy Farrell. He was a goal-kicking loose forward, who played for Wigan between 1991 and 2004, winning six Championships and four Challenge Cups, as well as numerous individual awards. My first memory was Andy with a broken nose and a strap all the way round his face. I just loved watching him!

If you could play with anyone, who would it be?

It would have to be Andrew Johns, he’s widely considered to be one of the greatest players in Rugby League history. He makes playing look so effortless.

So come on, where does “The Grenade” come from?

When I was 18, me and a mate did some MMA wrestling and I was pretty fierce, my personality shone through! Must be the reason I’ve stayed so long in Rugby League. During a specific bout the announcer said Shane “The Grenade” Grady, and it’s just stuck since then!

Are you from a sporting family?

My dad used to play rugby but he wasn’t the best, sorry Dad!

We are quite a sporty family, I used to watch my brother play footy and we just grew up with football and rugby, being from this area. We also enjoy watching all sorts of sports and if I can I like to play golf, but nowhere near as much as I would like.

Do you have a specific message for the fans?

It’s always been a dream of mine to play for my team in my home town. The Widnes fans are like no other – they have always been there for me and I know most of them.

The fans will understand when I say, it’s been a dream come true and I cannot thank them enough for being behind me all the way.

We wish Shane and his family all the very best for the future.