Friday 21 October 2016

'It's unthinkable... I won't play again' - Munster's Felix Jones forced into retirement at just 28

Published 28/10/2015 | 16:34

Munster's Felix Jones
Munster's Felix Jones

Munster full-back Felix Jones has been forced into retirement on medical grounds.

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The 28-year-old joins a growing number of players like Stephen Ferris, Kevin McLaughlin and Eoin O'Malley who have been forced to hang up their boots as a result of the toll professional rugby has taken on their body.

Jones has been plagued with injuries during his career but has been forced into retirement after sustaining a neck injury in the recent Guinness Pro12 clash with Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park.

Commenting on his early retirement, Felix said, "It is still unthinkable to believe I will never play another game of rugby.

"Although I have tried to round myself as an individual through education and other interests, I have always had one driving purpose in my life and that was to play rugby. I'm grateful I could do that in Munster. That feeling of walking out the tunnel in front of a packed Thomond Park is something I will never forget. To accept I will not play with my teammates again is beyond upsetting. I'm lucky to have played with so many great players, but rugby has given me something better and that is the people who are now life-long friends.

"I thank all the coaches I have been lucky enough to learn from and I look forward to seeing the development of our squad over the coming seasons. The guidance I have received from the medical teams in Munster and Ireland has been unfaltering. I would also like to acknowledge the consultants I have dealt with here and further abroad.

"I'm indebted to everyone who has helped me throughout my career from Seapoint my home club, Old Belvedere, Shannon and all the way up to representing Ireland. Without doubt the proudest moment of my career was being given the privilege to win my first cap for my country.

"It would be remiss of me not to mention the extensive support I have received from IRUPA not only at this moment in time but throughout my career also. I would encourage all players to engage with their players union.

Felix Jones, second right, celebrates his try
Felix Jones, second right, celebrates his try
23 May 2015; Felix Jones, Munster, and Dan Biggar, Ospreys, contest a garryowen. Guinness PRO12 Play-Off, Munster v Ospreys. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MARCH 01: Simon Zebo of Ireland and Felix Jones of Ireland celebrate their team's 19-9 victory during the RBS Six Nations match between Ireland and England at the Aviva Stadium on March 1, 2015 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Munster's Felix Jones dives over to score his side's second try of the game
Felix Jones, Ireland Wolfhounds, is tackled by Henry Thomas, and Rob Webber, below, England Saxons
16 November 2014; Ireland's Felix Jones goes over for his second, and his side's fifth, try of the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v Georgia, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
Munster's Keith Earls, left, and Felix Jones, leave the pitch after defeat to Toulon. Heineken Cup, Semi-Final, Toulon v Munster. Stade Vélodrome, Marseille, France. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene
Simon Zebo supported by Felix Jones
Munster's JJ Hanrahan (L) celebrates with Felix Jones after his last-gasp try secured victory over Perpignan sportsfile
8 April 2012; John Afoa, Ulster, tackles Felix Jones, Munster. Heineken Cup Quarter-Final, Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
10 February 2012; Felix Jones, Shannon. Ulster Bank League Division 1A, Shannon v Young Munster, Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
8 June 2013; Felix Jones, Ireland, is tackled by Seamus Kelly, USA.
Felix Jones gathers a high ball which resulted in him having to leave the field with a leg injury. Photo: Brendan Moran
6 August 2011; Felix Jones, Ireland, is tackled by Nick de Luca, Scotland. Rugby World Cup Warm-up Game, Scotland v Ireland, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
28 May 2011; Munster's Felix Jones celebrates with the trophy. Celtic League Grand Final, Munster v Leinster, Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Felix Jones during his days in the Leinster blue. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
16 March 2007; Ireland players, from left, Keith Earles, Ger Slattery, Eoghan Grace, Felix Jones, Andrew Browne, Tommy O'Donnell and Shane Monahan celebrate with the trophy after victory against Italy. Italy v Ireland, U20 Six Nations Rugby Championship, Santa Colomba Stadium, Benevento, Italy. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

"Finally, I would like to thank my family and close friends for their undying support on and off the pitch. I will draw upon this over the coming weeks as the situation presents itself as a nervous yet exciting junction in my life."

Munster Head Coach Anthony Foley said "We are all hugely disappointed for Felix. He was a leading example in the way he applied himself through his commitment, work-rate and attention to detail. For a player to come in, embody everything that is Munster and have such a presence within the group he will be sorely missed on and off the field. We are very grateful for Felix's immense contribution over the last six years and wish him all the best for the future."

Munster released this video of his greatest moments for the province.

After two years at the Leinster Academy, Jones joined Shannon and Munster in 2009 and made a name for himself in the province at a very early stage.

He made his Munster debut in September, 2009 and was a first-team regular by the time the southern province claimed Magner's League silverware against rivals Leinster in 2011.

He made his international debut against Scotland in a warm-up game for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

A former Ireland U20's Grand Slam winner and 7s international Jones made 13 appearances for Ireland and was part of this year's Six Nations Championship winning squad.

The fullback also made 5 appearances for Ireland 'A' and captained the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons at Irish Independent Park earlier this year.

Well respected among his peers, Jones captained Munster for the first time last season has gone on to lead the province on six successful occasions, most recently captaining the side on his final outing in Thomond Park.

Tributes have been pouring in for the full-back on social media:

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