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Ireland star Jamie Heaslip retires from rugby 'to ensure future wellbeing'

Leinster and Ireland star Jamie Heaslip has retired from rugby.

The Leinster player 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 sustained during the Six Nations in March last year, and has not played since. He said he has had to take on medical advice and will quit the game.

Heaslip completed all 80 minutes against Wales in the Six Nations on March 10 last year but that proved to be his final appearance. It was in the warm-up against England that he was forced to withdraw.

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.

The 34-year-old won 95 caps for Ireland, scoring 13 tries and winning three Six Nations titles, including the 2009 Grand Slam. For Leinster, he won three Heineken Cups and three Pro 12 crowns.

A two-time British and Irish Lion, Heaslip made five Test appearances across the 2009 and 2013 tours of South Africa and Australia.

And individually, he was nominated twice for World Rugby Player of the Year, as recently as 2016.

In a statement this morning he thanked his wife Sheena, his family, supporters and the IRFU for helping him make his dreams come true.

"Time will get us all, but it's cornered me earlier than I hoped," he said.

"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 wellbeing.

"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 of brothers 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 to 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."

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