Josh Kerr’s retirement announcement came after his lacklustre heat with Jordy Smith. It was poor timing as his incredible career needs to be properly celebrated.
As retirement goes, it was hardly in the realms of Mick Cronin, Peter Sterling and Ray Price going out as NRL premiers in 1986. Or when Steve “Beaver” Menzies scored a try in his final game for Manly in the 2008 Grand Final. Or more appropriately when Fred Pattachia scored a 10 in Round 3 heat at Trestles and immediately dropped the mike.
No, Josh Kerr’s retirement has crept up slowly, like a heat rash. After he won his Round 1 heat in Portugal he said that he was now looking forward to his next chapter, whatever that might be. Rosy left that rather ambiguous statement hanging waiting until after his next heat with Jordy Smith to get a definitive answer.
Mind you after that performance, it was obvious that Kerr had already mentally clocked out. Kerr and Smith are each other’s BFFs on tour and when Kerrzy’s family bailed just before the weekend, Kerr took up residence with Smith in his Peniche pad.
So Kerr was in a difficult position. With nothing for him to fight for, a heat win would give little benefit and deal a death blow to his mate’s World Title campaign. It’s not the first time this scenario has arisen and it won’t be the last. Our esteemed South African correspondent Jarvi take on it was that, “The heartbreak of Jordy’s heat against Josh Kerr was overshadowed by Strider crapping on about the hassling tactics Kerrzy needed to employ to put Jordy on the ropes. Kerrzy’s approach was a little more hands-off, and Strider lamented the Australian’s approach throughout.”
Now ‘hands off’ is one term for it, grabbing your ankles and bending over is another. It was only when Kerr’s famous barrel riding instinct took over and he couldn’t help himself but get pitted that he put pressure on Smith. He then left Jordy alone for the rest of the heat giving the South African every opportunity to rack up the ten points needed to win. It was an open goal, with no keeper, and Smith somehow managed kicked the ball into Row Z.
Many may have given Kerr the benefit of the doubt until his post heat interview where he said that if Smith had offered some cash, he might have done a better job of it. His hyena cackle showed that was an obvious joke, but it didn’t mask the intent. He put his mate first, and that is fair enough, but both Kerr and Smith didn’t come out of it too well. On the plus side though, Kerr now at least now has a house to himself.
Kerrzy then however did announce that this year would be his last on the CT. He alluded to the mental issues that he had with competing with no major sponsor and that since the start of the year the financial implications for his family had him conflicted. It was just a shame that the announcement came on the back of what was an obvious halfhearted performance.
Because that may have been the only one of his career. For over a decade Kerr has put everything into his surfing, achieving multiple top 10 finishes through a combination of talent, big wave chops, endless positive energy, progressive surfing and competitive smarts. He has been one of the most underrated Australian surfers of the last decade and one whose career should be celebrated. Hopefully he will give us the opportunity to do that in the next few days, and set up a fitting farewell at Pipe.
Until then enjoy the below clip from his infamous ‘Club Sandwich’ heat against Mick Fanning at the 2007 Quiksilver Pro.