Tuesday 22 May 2018

'Time has cornered me earlier than I hoped' - Jamie Heaslip to retire with immediate effect

11 February 2017; Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Italy and Ireland at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
11 February 2017; Jamie Heaslip of Ireland during the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Italy and Ireland at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Jamie Heaslip
Injury absence: Jamie Heaslip hasn't played since Ireland's clash with Wales in last year's Six Nations
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

IRELAND international Jamie Heaslip has announced his retirement from rugby.

The Leinster player (34) is stepping down with immediate effect "in order to ensure my future wellbeing", he said.

The back row forward was struck with a back injury last year, and has not played since. He said he has had to take on medical advice and will quit the game.

"Time will get us all, but it's cornered me earlier than I had hoped," said Heaslip in a statement released today.

"Every professional sportsperson always hopes to be able to leave their chosen sport on their terms but too often that's not the case.

"I have had to take on board the medical advice that I have been given and after talking to Sheena and my family I have taken the difficult decision to retire with immediate effect from playing rugby in order to ensure my future well being.

5 November 2016; Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates victory after the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
5 November 2016; Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrates victory after the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
21 March 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip with the RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship trophy, but now he is enjoying Ireland's success as a spectator. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland players, from left, Stephen Ferris, Jamie Heaslip, Tomas O'Leary and Tommy Bowe wait for captain Brian O'Driscoll to lift the RBS Six Nations trophy after Grand Slam glory in 2009. More the same this weekend? Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
15 March 2014; Ireland's Gordon D'Arcy, Brian O'Driscoll, Jamie Heaslip and Dave Kearney celebrate the with RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014 trophy. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship 2014, France v Ireland, Stade De France, Saint Denis, Paris, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
31 May 2014; Leinster players, from left, Jamie Heaslip, Shane Jennings and Rhys Ruddock celebrate with the trophy after the game. Celtic League 2013/14 Grand Final, Leinster v Glasgow Warriors, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
25 May 2013; Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, celebrates with the cup. Celtic League Grand Final, Ulster v Leinster, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Oliver McVeigh / SPORTSFILE
17 May 2013; Leinster's Isa Nacewa and Jamie Heaslip celebrate with the cup after the game. Amlin Challenge Cup Final 2012/13, Leinster v Stade Francais, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
9 November 2013; Jamie Heaslip, Ireland, celebrates after teammate Peter O'Mahony scores his sides first try. Guinness Series International, Ireland v Samoa, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
19 May 2012; Leinster's Jamie Heaslip celebrates with the Heineken Cup. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Ulster, Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, England. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
21 May 2011; Leinster's Jamie Heaslip, left, and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Heineken Cup after the game. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Northampton Saints, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
19 March 2011; Ireland' Jonathan Sexton, right, and Jamie Heaslip celebrate at the end of the game. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v England, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
23 May 2009; Leinster's Jamie Heaslip celebrates. Heineken Cup Final, Leinster v Leicester Tigers, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh, Scotland. Picture credit: Richard Lane / SPORTSFILE
1 April 2006; Leinster players, l to r, Malcolm O'Kelly, Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D'Arcy celebrate after the game. Heineken Cup 2005-2006, Quarter-Final, Toulouse v Leinster, Le Stadium, Toulouse, France. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

"I'm very proud to finish my career as a one club man having played amongst some of the best in the game, who are all like a family to me.

"My goal when I started my professional career 14 years ago was to leave the jerseys that I wore in a better place and I hope I have done that.

"Thank you to the IRFU, Leinster Rugby, all the coaches, medical staff, back room staff, sponsors, media, supporters, and most importantly my wife, family, friends and fellow players for helping me make my dreams come true.

"I've had the time of my life on and off the rugby pitch but now it's time for the next chapter."

Heaslip's career had been in limbo since a second operation was required on his lower back at the end of October in what was seen a make-or-break move.

In recent months, he had been sparse with information about what he considered a private medical matter. However, in recent weeks it had been reported that he was close to comeback.

This, however, has obviously proved impossible.

Read more here:

During his illustrious career, Heaslip was capped 95 times for Ireland winning three Six Nations titles, two Triple Crowns and one Grand Slam in 2009.

He also played five times for the Lions bringing his total number of Test caps top 100.

For Leinster, he won three Heineken Cups and three Pro12 titles.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen paid a glowing tribute to Heaslip.

"We are all saddened by the news that Jamie is retiring from the game after sustaining an injury before the Ireland against England game last March," said Cullen.

"I remember first seeing Jamie in the Leinster Academy and knowing straight away that he had something very different about him, a confidence and a belief in what he was doing. It was in 2007 when I returned from a playing stint in England that my initial impression was confirmed - in the two years I was away, Jamie had become a mainstay of the Leinster team.

Watch Jamie Heaslip's Try of the Year in 2016 here:

"What separated Jamie was his attention to detail, his desire to continuously improve, his work rate and his fierce competitive instincts when he was on the field. Jamie wanted to win and that meant the standard of what his team mates was delivering had to get better also.

"I don't think any Leinster fan, myself included, will forget his try in the 2009 Heineken Cup Final against Leicester Tigers when he drove himself over the line with a little help from Shane Jennings, or his wrap around scoring pass to Johnny Sexton in the 2011 Heineken Cup Final, or his vital turnover on our own try line as Ulster were on the attack in the 2012 Heineken Cup Final. When it came to the big occasions, Jamie somehow always delivered big moments.

"His durability over the course of a long career was testament to how he lived his life as a professional athlete, and he managed to squeeze an incredible amount into the time he had as a rugby player.

"We will miss Jamie greatly at Leinster but we wish him and wife Sheena the very best for their future. To Jamie's parents Richard (Dick) and Christine, we hope to still see you at Leinster games. You have been there along every step of the way and we'll also miss you greatly. So many parents go through the highs and lows that this great game provides and we are very thankful for the support that you have given us over the years.

"Jamie, congratulations on what has been a truly remarkable career. Thank you for raising the bar at Leinster and for pushing us all to be better."

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