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Injury forces Byrne into retirement

Former Wales full-back Lee Byrne has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a shoulder injury.

The 34-year-old British and Irish Lion was named captain on joining the Newport Gwent Dragons last summer, but has been forced into calling it quits.

The former Scarlets, Ospreys and Clermont star won 46 caps for Wales after making his Test debut in 2005.

Byrne underwent shoulder surgery in November, but has now had to admit defeat in his battle to return to the field.

"This is a disappointing time for me but I'm looking forward to the future," said Byrne.

"I'm not sure what the next chapter holds or even what I want to do, but I am planning on taking some down time over the next few weeks to look at my opportunities, whether that's in rugby or a new career.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wife, family, and friends for their support over the years.

"I'm frustrated to be in this position but I'm happy to have enjoyed my time in the game having fulfilled all my rugby ambitions at both club and international level. I have made terrific friends and have had incredible experiences."

Byrne helped Wales to the 2008 Grand Slam in a Test career that came to a close at the 2011 World Cup.

"I would also like to thank Lyn Jones for making me the Dragons captain," said Byrne, who won one cap on the Lions' 2009 tour to South Africa.

"I'm glad I had the chance to play a small part in this season's success and it's great to know that I am leaving with the region on a high, with such good things to come.

"Everyone at the Dragons has been very supportive with my care, the medical team and strength and conditioning team in particular.

"I'd like to thank them all for their support during the last few months and extend that thanks to everyone involved in the region."

Rugby director Lyn Jones admitted Byrne's enforced retirement deprives the Dragons of both experience and nous.

"Lee is a fantastic rugby player and has been a great influence on many of our younger players," said Jones.

"He will be missed both on and off the pitch, and I know that everyone here at the Newport Gwent Dragons wish him all the best in the future."

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