Football isn’t a life-long career, and Sam Perrett knows the importance of planning for the future.

BRUISED and battered bodies, bent limbs and a total disregard for your own safety – welcome to the life of a professional footy player.

It’s no secret that playing past your late 20s is rare for the modern day NRL star. It’s why planning for life after you lace up the boots is of the utmost importance.

Take Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Kiwi international winger Sam Perrett.

At the age of 30, Perrett is still kicking on.

His invaluable experience and fantastic finishing ability make him a mainstay in Des Hasler’s side every week, but there’s no doubt his career is reaching its twilight.

He’s played over 250 top grade games for the Sydney Roosters, the Bulldogs and the Kiwis, but he may have already given the game up if he played more of

a dominant position. It’s why he’s been planning his retirement for years.

“I’ve had an awesome career in terms of longevity and being able to play consecutive games. Even at the top level a lot of players don’t get to do that, they get ongoing injuries and that kind of thing,” Perrett says.

The stacked winger, who has piled on several kilos of muscle during the off season, has a long injury list of his own.

He’s had damage to his meniscus in his knee; ruptured a ligament in his ankle on debut which kept him out for 10 weeks; a broken collarbone; damaged ligaments in his shoulders; damaged rib cartilage; broken bones in his hand; groin surgery – the list goes on and on.

“Compared to some that’s classed as a good run,” he says.

“Far more talented players than me have had far worse, career-ending injuries. This is my 13th year and it’s gone by so quick.”

That’s why he can’t emphasise enough to young players that developing a career outside of football is crucial.

“Just do something outside of football, anything. Just something that can offer a second career in case something happens.”

It was a message constantly drilled into his head by his father.

“Even at school while I was training and playing football to get into rep sides and gaining contract offers with clubs, I was out doing work experience,” he says.

“My first job was labouring for my uncle’s paving company, then I did some work boat building, I spent time at an architecture firm, a plumbing business and a gym, among other places.

“When I first went to the Roosters I was still testing out what to do away from the field – I even did an animation course.”

With more work experience notches on his belt than anyone else in his position, he found that his passion was construction and thus the Perrett Group was formed – an organisation, founded by Sam, that specialises in the supply, development, sales and marketing of residential homes and construction.

“There were some really good opportunities to make a difference in the world through development, construction and investment,” he says.

“I’ve been lucky to find out what I wanted to do early on in my career. Football’s good but it won’t last forever. You need to have skills and have something to fall back on.”

In the Holden Cup a system is in place to ensure players are educated the same way Perrett was.

The ‘no work, no study, no play’ initiative is in place to ensure they’ll have a platform to fall back on, given the reality that many players in the Holden Cup won’t make it to the NRL.

“I’m really pleased that they have that in place for the young kids,” Perrett says.

For Sam, the main reason for his career isn’t the injuries he’s suffered, but his wife and kids (pictured).

“The trips away, the training schedules that can change last minute – it certainly affects them,” he says.

“Now the Perrett Group will give me some consistency once I retire, which will be great for my family.

“Most of the guys know that they need a career outside of football, but knowing and doing are two different things.

“A lot of guys just don’t know what they want to do. My advice is to try anything – you’ll eventually discover what you want to do.”

Big League 2016 (Raymond Ashe)