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Ulster's Ian Humphreys: My body says it's time to quit

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster have announced that fly-half Ian Humphreys will retire at the end of the current campaign.

The 33-year-old has amassed 113 appearances for his native province since making his debut against Newport more than a decade ago, despite enjoying two stints in the Aviva Premiership.

Having started his professional career relatively late with Leicester Tigers, he returned home in 2005 after the retirement of his elder brother David, Ulster's out-half from the European Cup winning side of 1999.

Often equally electrifying and unpredictable with ball in hand, he was an important figure for the side moving forward and started the journey to the 2012 Heineken Cup final in Ulster's No.10 jersey.

He started in the historic quarter-final win over Munster at Thomond Park, and knocked over an important drop goal in the six-point victory, but he had lost his place to the up and coming Paddy Jackson by the time of the last-four clash with Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium.

Having surrendered his starting spot, he left for London Irish at the end of that season and spent two seasons there before returning home in 2014.

With his family at the forefront of the decision, he arrived back at the Kingspan to provide experienced back-up to the now undisputed starter Jackson and won his 100th cap against Scarlets at home last February.

This season he has made eight appearances for Les Kiss' men, scoring a pair of tries in the Champions Cup against Saracens and Oyonnax, but has had his outings limited by injuries and the return from Ireland camp of Jackson during the Six Nations.

Last month, Humphreys had intimated that he would be keen to extend his career by a further year but said yesterday he felt it was time to hang up his boots.

"Unfortunately my body is telling me it's time to stop," he said.

"I feel blessed to have enjoyed such a long career, the highlight of which has been achieving 100 caps for my home province."

Humphreys added his thanks to everyone at Ulster Rugby while also praising his family for the support they have shown.

He added: "I thank everyone who has been part of my journey, particularly my wife Jenny, my daughters Anna and Zoe and the rest of my family."

Ulster's Operations Director Bryn Cunningham, a team-mate during Humphreys' first spell, added his praise for the departing No.10, saying his best attributes could often go unnoticed.

"Throughout his career, 'Mini Humph' has been one of the stand-out attacking 10s in European Rugby," said Cunningham.

"However, it is possibly his organisational and communication skills with players around him, often unseen by those watching, that made Ian such an influence.

"Everyone at Ulster Rugby wishes Ian, Jenny and the kids the very best for the future."

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