Damien Varley: I broke down after Leinster win. I knew it was bad news
Damien Varley has told of how he broke down following Munster's win over Leinster in the Pro12 last October because he knew he would have to undergo surgery on an injured foot.
The Munster man announced his retirement from rugby today after he was forced to hang up the boots on doctor's advice.
The 31-year-old picked up the injury to his left foot during a training session in July 2013. He had been going through ongoing rehabilitation but the injury flared up again against Leinster in Munster's nail-biting 24-23 win at the Aviva Stadium in October.
He underwent surgery three months ago on the injury but has decided to quit the game after exhausting all possible avenues to a return following a meeting with his surgeon last month.
"Leinster in the Aviva in October was my last game and when I felt my foot go and I couldn't come off - I had to finish the game due to different injuries - I remember knowing that the next possibility was surgery and breaking down on my own in the dressing room after," said Varley on RTE's Game On tonight.
"It was such a contradictory moment because we were ecstatic after beating Leinster at the time and going on to have surgery and ultimately retire, it is overwhelming."
Varley remembers the dreaded moment when the surgeon delivered the news he had feared.
"It's a blank feeling. It kind of hit me when I walked out of the surgery and I was in London, it's where I began my career and it is where I was told my career was no more. It was a very upsetting time and very hard to deal with. It was the day before the Saracens game and a completely emotional weekend on all fronts."
Varley takes some solace in the fact that the decision was made for him and he didn't have to go through months of debating what road to take.
"It's a bit of an emotional rollercoaster today. Unfortunately it happens in this game, I am not the first and I probably won't be the last unfortunately.
"The decision was made for me by the surgeon so in one sense it's easier because you are not fighting against yourself trying to come back and continue rehab for months and months on end and having to make the decision yourself. So in one sense it was easier having been told what the best thing for you is.
"In another sense, you are sitting across the desk from someone who holds your future in his hands and it is tough to hear and tough to deal with."
Commenting on his retirement earlier today, Varley said, "It is with great sadness that I have to announce my premature retirement. Like so many before me I will look back at my time in Munster with immense pride and fondness, not only for the sport, but for the people that I have played with, worked with and the friendships I have made.
"I am privileged to have represented my province and country and I am hugely thankful for all the memories, and for the support I have received throughout my career.
"Finally, I would like to thank my family, in particular my parents Jim and Mary and my brothers and sisters for their unwavering support over the years, they have been a constant source of encouragement and guidance.
"I would also like to mention Pat Chesser who opened the door for me first day when introducing me to London Wasps.”