AS Simon Dowker prepares to take the Underley Park stage for the final time, the experienced second row is determined to bow out of the game on top.

The 38-year-old is calling time on his playing days after spending his entire career at Kirkby Lonsdale, initially starting in the mini section before a 20-year stint in the first-team squad.

And while there are medical reasons underpinning his decision to retire, Dowker admits the ability to quit while ahead is a nice position to be in.

“It could well be an emotional day on Saturday although we’ll have to wait and see,” he said.

“But as always the main thing is the team and the win – it’s important for the club to finish the season on a high.

“I’ve suffered with a neck problem for the last couple of years and want to be able to move when I’m a bit older so that has been the main prompt in calling it a day.

“However, it’s been a pretty successful season on the whole and that is also part of the reason for retiring – very much a case of going out on a high.

“We struggled to stay up last year but this time around it’s been a different story. The club also needs to move on and bring some of the young lads through.”

Defeat against Wigton at the weekend saw Kirkby slip to sixth in North One West although a fifth-place finish is still very much in range, especially with Warrington playing title-challengers Birkenhead Park.

But whatever the final league position turns out to be, Dowker – who hopes to return to the club in a coaching capacity next season – insists the current campaign has had notable highlights.

“We’ve performed well more or less throughout the season and scored a lot of points,” he added.

“Finishing fifth would represent a great achievement. We started with a new coach this season and nobody really knew what to expect at the start.

“I have no idea how many games I have played over the years but it’s a lot and have plenty of abiding memories.

“I’ve witnessed quite a few changes in my time at the club and it has grown a hell of a lot in that time.

“Beating Kendal for the first time in the league this season is up there. I’m from Kendal and have lived there all my life and never really expected to do at any stage.

“These are great memories, as was winning the Westmorland Cup with the second team when I was 18 or 19.”