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Injured Newcastle prop Taione Vea announces retirement

Newcastle prop Taione Vea has been forced to retire from rugby due to a spinal injury.

The 27-year-old Tonga international was hurt during Newcastle's Aviva Premiership opener against Sale Sharks in September.

Announcing the news on Newcastle's official website, Vea said: " I took a bad knock in the game against Sale and spent a few nights in hospital, and when I had my scan results unfortunately things didn't come back too well.

"I had quite a bit of swelling in the spinal cord, around some really important areas of the neck, and it is just one of those things.

"I was left paralysed for five or six minutes on the field, where I couldn't feel my whole body.

"That is enough for anybody in a lifetime and the risk of that happening again if I was to return to playing is quite high. It is obviously not the way I wanted to go.

"At the age I am and the way I felt I was playing, I was planning on a fair few more years. But having spoken to medical professionals and specialists, I have had to just accept the fact there is more to life than playing the game I love."

Newcastle rugby director Dean Richards paid tribute to Vea, who joined the Falcons from London Welsh last year.

" Tai is an enormously talented and popular member of our squad and it is devastating to hear the news that he will not be able to carry on playing," Richards said.

"He has remained strong throughout what is obviously a very difficult period and he will continue to receive the full support of everybody associated with the club."

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