Springbok flanker Juan Smith has been forced to retire due to an Achilles injury only two weeks after his return to the game following a two-year absence.
The 31-year-old back row forward sustained the problem in a pre-season friendly against the Bulls. Smith has been on the sidelines for two years due to an Achilles injury he suffered in February 2011 and has undergone and four operations in a bid to repair the damage.
However, South African newspaper Die Volksblad reported on Monday that Smith has decided to hang up his boots for good after he finally gave up all hope of resuming his career when an MRI scan on his ankle came back with negative results.
"Were it not for the fans and my family, I probably would have decided to announce my retirement much earlier due to my injury," Smith told Die Volksblad.
"But it was the fans who helped me muster the courage every time after the disappointment of an operation to return to the football field to try again this year.
"I appreciate all the support that I have got with my family over the years from Bok and especially Free State (Cheetahs) fans."