‘The body just tells you to sit down’
Recently retired Eels star Peni Terepo has opened up on his battle with epilepsy that contributed to his decision to hang up the boots and start a new life as a butcher.
The 29-year-old scored six tries in 123 games for the Eels since his debut in 2013, but was encouraged to look at life after football by the club.
"I'm out here in Queens St Campbelltown now onto the next chapter of life," Terepo said.
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"I've just opened last week and Homies Butcher is the name of our business. When I walked away from the game it was pretty obvious I needed to do something."
Terepo was forced into premature retirement following a Round 6 game against the Roosters at Bankwest Stadium.
"That was my final NRL game," Terepo said.
"Mentally I can cope with everything that comes with first grade, but sometimes the body just tells you to sit down."
Part of his decision to retire came down to his struggle with epilepsy, which has gotten worse in recent years to the point where Terepo didn't recognise himself.
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"Over the years it started becoming more frequent the auras and the warnings," Terepo said.
"They're almost like looking at a Beehive and the bees are buzzing and the bees are stinging you.
"I try to mentally handle it and control it, but the pressures of first grade. The epilepsy I completely shoved it under the carpet.
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"Something needed to be done. I started turning into a different person."
Terepo cherishes the friendships he made at the Eels during a period where on-field success was hard to come by, but they eventually rose together as a playing group.
"The Parramatta Eels will always be my home," Terepo said.
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"They've shaped me the way I am. My time at Parramatta over the last eight years the club were really in the trenches.
"There is people that were there during the time we were in the trenches that I created long term relationships with the boys. We stuck it out."
The Eels big man is thankful to the club for pushing him to find a new career path after football and sticking with him when his path was not as clear as it is now.
"It's one thing to make it in first grade, but it is another thing to make it out of first grade," Terepo said.
"I'm heaps grateful to the club. They persisted with me because I didn't know what I wanted to do.
"They kept asking me you need to do something son. So I tried my hand in butchering and now I am here doing this every day.
"I'm breaking lamb, breaking beef and some pork."
Providing support to Terepo every day is his wife Vanessa who works in the butcher shop with him.
"Having her on board builds our relationship," Terepo said.
"I was a different person over the last couple of years and having her by my side gives me a little bit of confidence and I love having her in the shop."
If you or anyone you know needs help or information about epilepsy please contact www.epilepsyfoundation.org.au/
Originally published as 'The body just tells you to sit down': Heartbreaking moment Eels star knew he had to retire