Hull Kingston Rovers have confirmed that centre Kris Welham will leave the club at the end of the current season and continue his career elsewhere in 2016.
The former England Knights international is out of contract at the end of the campaign and will bring the curtain down on a 10-year spell with the Robins after the club’s next two matches against Sheffield Eagles and Salford Red Devils.
A product of the club’s academy, Welham made his first team debut in National League One in 2006 and has gone on to score 100 tries in 189 appearances for his home-town club.
Speaking to www.hullkr.co.uk, Welham said: “I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a great career here and I’ll miss playing for Hull Kingston Rovers but all good things must come to an end.
“It’s now time for a new challenge from next season and I wish everybody at the club all the best for 2016 and beyond.
“I’d like to thank everybody for all they have done for me whilst I’ve been here, including my teammates, the board of directors, the coaches, the office staff and particularly the supporters who have always been terrific.
“It’s been a pleasure to pull on the Red and White shirt and I’ve got some fond memories from my time here. It’s disappointing not to be staying at the club next season, but my goal now is to end my Rovers career on a high.
“Scoring my 100th try against Bradford at the weekend was an achievement I’m really proud of and now I’ve got my sights set on playing in these next two matches and hopefully winning them both. To score a century of tries and then finish the season unbeaten in the Super 8s would be a good way to finish my time here.”
In honour of his achievements with the Robins, Welham will captain the side against Sheffield Eagles tomorrow and head coach Chris Chester admitted his departure was a tough decision to make.
“Kris has been a tremendous servant to this club and he will be missed by everybody at Hull Kingston Rovers next season, but ultimately the time is right for all parties to move on,” he said.
“We’ve decided to go in a different direction in the backs next season and this is also an opportunity for Kris to seek a fresh challenge elsewhere, which I’m sure will bring out the best in him as well.
“Personally, it’s very difficult not to give a new contract to somebody you have both played alongside and coached, but Kris understands our reasons and he’ll leave with our best wishes for the future.
“He’s a player who has earned everybody’s respect for what he has done in a Hull Kingston Rovers shirt and I’m sure he’ll be given a tremendous reception by our supporters over the next two weeks.”
Hull KR chairman Neil Hudgell added: “Kris has served the club with distinction for a number of years, from making his debut in our promotion-winning season to becoming a senior player during our time in Super League.
“To make the decision not to retain him for next season was always going to be a difficult one for the football department but ultimately we have a salary cap to stick to and they need to decide what is in the best interests of the squad.
“I’m confident we will strike the right balance for next season, but Kris has given a lot to the club over the past 10 years and it’s only fitting that we allow him the opportunity to leave on a high. On a personal level there’s a good deal of sadness for me as I’ve seen him grow from a shy teenager to a grown man, with a family of his own, and an established footballer.
“He’s not only been a tremendous player for Hull Kingston Rovers, he’s also been a great ambassador for the club and I know I speak on behalf of everybody when I say we wish Kris and his family all the very best for the future.”