Leinster and Ireland forward Kevin McLaughlin has announced he has been forced to retire from rugby on medical grounds.
The 31-year-old, who has eight international caps to his name, sustained concussion in the opening Guinness PRO12 game against Edinburgh and following neurological tests, it was recommended that it would be in his best long-term interests to stop playing.
"It is upsetting and frustrating to have to retire when I feel I have so much left to give but it is the right decision and I am glad that our medical staff were so pro-active in encouraging me to see a neurologist and getting his expert opinion," he said.
"The support I have received from the club and my team mates has been incredible and will help to soften the blow of having to having to retire from the game I love.
"The two Heineken Cups, particularly the 2012 win in Twickenham will also last long in the memory. I was lucky enough to be involved in Leinster throughout a very successful and rewarding period during which I have learned a lot about life and made lifelong friends.”
The St. Mary's man made his Leinster debut in April 2007 and has since made a total of 115 appearances for the province, scoring four tries. He has won two Heineken Cup medals with Leinster, starting in both final wins over Northampton Saints and Ulster Rugby and has also won a Challenge Cup and three PRO12 titles.
He has played for his country eight times having made his debut against Italy in the opening game of the 2010 Six Nations. His last cap came against New Zealand in November 2013.
Head coach Leo Cullen paid tribute to McLaughlin and said there was a possibility he could continue to work at the province.
"Kevin is one of the most selfless players in our squad," he said.
"He is the consummate pro and always put the team first. His record speaks for itself in terms of what he has achieved but outside of that his influence will live on in Leinster beyond his 115 caps for the players that were lucky enough to have worked and played with him day in, day out.
"He is a very popular member of the squad both on and off the pitch and thankfully Kevin is open to the possibility of helping out with us behind the scenes certainly in the short term and again I think that's an indication of the esteem with which he is held within the group."
McLaughlin admitted he was lucky to have the most professional attention at Leinster.
"I want to acknowledge the medical team at Leinster Rugby and the IRFU and the care they have provided me with over my career. Particularly the staff in Leinster who have gone above and beyond to treat and rehab me back from several injuries over the past ten years.
"It is a daunting time for any rugby player to have to start afresh in a new career but I have been lucky enough to have the support and guidance of IRUPA at all stages of my time as a Leinster player and I think this will stand to me as I look for new opportunities in the next few months.”
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