Inglis has been mulling over the idea of playing again for the past month or so after a conversation with former Souths back-rower Jason Clark, who also plays with Warrington, sparked his interest.
He won’t be going to England on the megabucks that some have speculated. Wolves chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick said Inglis was not one of the club’s marquee players, meaning Inglis will be on no more than $210,000.
“I was 50 per cent leaning towards Warrington, 50 per cent towards staying here, but as it got closer the end result was going over there for a year,” Inglis said. “My body is feeling good. Shoulder, knee, head, toes … all good. I’m still limber. I can stretch. I can get up and down off the ground. But the ultimate test will be running over there in the snow when I’m training. It will be different, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.”
In true rugby league style, rival fans said the deal reeked of salary cap cheating, ignoring that Inglis wasn’t medically retired – like Sam Burgess was last year – and that the NRL had deemed that about $900,000 of his 2019 deal was included in Souths’ cap.
Inglis will see out the remainder of his $100,000 coaching and pathways job this year before taking up the Warrington deal in December.
“There are no additional salary cap implications for South Sydney,” an NRL spokesman said. “Greg Inglis was not medically retired and he has not re-signed with South Sydney or another NRL club.”
Inglis scoffed at claims there was something sinister about his retirement and subsequent comeback.
“Someone’s always going to bag it,” he said. “They’re going to come up with their own conspiracy theory. The people involved in my retirement, and the way I’m coming back, they know the real story. We went down the right path. We didn’t use any loopholes. Everything was by the book. We went in a straight line, from A to B.
“They can speculate about how much I’m getting paid, whether by Souths or anyone else. I know what’s going on and that’s all that matters. The salary cap auditor signed off on it. The integrity unit signed off on it. There were no question marks over it. They rung me up and asked if this is what I wanted to do. I signed the documents, and that was it.”
Indeed, Inglis appears to be in the happiest place he’s been in for a very long time. He met Caccamo, who works for the NRL, two years ago and they’ve come out the other side of some tough battles after Inglis was admitted to a rehab clinic a month after his retirement announcement.
Since his release, he hasn’t drunk alcohol and is also taking daily medication after being diagnosed with bipolar II.
“Coming out the other side, I’ve had great support,” he said. “Being properly diagnosed has been the most important thing.”
Equally important to his lifestyle is working daily with retired racehorses.
“Living on acreage, having horses around, it eases your mind and brings a calmness to you,” Inglis said. “They’re ex-racehorses. One’s a broodmare in foal, another is 23 years old, which Alyse has had for years. Once you’re relaxed within yourself, being around them is quite humbling. I’m the little waterboy, bringing all the strapping and stuff like that.”
Inglis said the Warrington move had been backed by his ex-wife Sally and he hoped his children would spend time with him in England when he moves there.
“I had hoped life could be this good, but I never thought we’d be this far down the track and this happy,” Inglis said. “I’m open and honest about it all with my ex, Sally, and the kids. We’ve all got a great relationship, communication-wise, and it’s made things a hell of a lot better.”
As for criticism that he’s making the wrong move heading to the north of England, Inglis said he wasn’t concerned by the opinions of others.
“That’s their opinion – but I don’t care,” Inglis said with a shrug. “It’s the opinion of my close friends that matters. They reached out to me in those hard times and now I’ll do this the way I want to do it. I’ll leave those haters, those doubters, with whatever they want to think. I no longer care.”
Andrew Webster is Chief Sports Writer of The Sydney Morning Herald.