'Time has cornered me earlier than I hoped' - Jamie Heaslip to retire with immediate effect
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.
"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."
Thanks for everything pic.twitter.com/cZpK78vzXu— jamie heaslip (@jamieheaslip) February 26, 2018
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:
- 13 brilliant pictures from Jamie Healip's memorable career
- 'Utterly professional, driven to succeed and a leader with the actions he delivered'
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."