Ireland and Leinster veteran Jamie Heaslip announces retirement

Heaslip has been unable to play since suffering a back injury in March 2017

Ireland and Leinster veteran Jamie Heaslip announces retirement

Jamie Heaslip. Picture by: Niall Carson/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 10.35

Irish rugby player Jamie Heaslip has announced his retirement.

The Leinster No 8 is hanging up his boots with immediate effect, the team announced this morning.

The Kildare player - who has made 229 appearances for Leinster since 2005 - has been unable to play since suffering a lower back injury in March 2017.

While he has undergone rehabilitation, he says he has now been forced to retire.

In a statement, the rugby veteran said: "A lot of players unfortunately don't get the opportunity to bow out on their own terms but thankfully having taken my time and after medical advice and consultation with my wife and close family, I have taken this decision with my future well-being in mind. 

"I have always said that rugby is just one side to me and that there are other avenues that I am keen to explore and that opportunity has come earlier than I would have liked but I feel that I am in a good place to take that next step."

He added: "To the Leinster, Ireland and Lions supporters. We've enjoyed some incredible highs together, and indeed some lows, but it was an honour to represent you all and I hope that I have left all three jerseys in a better place.”

Jamie Heaslip during RBS 6 Nations Championship Round 3, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 25/2/2017, Ireland vs France. Image ©INPHO/James Crombie

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen praised the retiring player, saying: “His durability over the course of a long career was testament to how he lived his life as a professional athlete, and he managed to squeeze an incredible amount into the time he had as a rugby player.

“Jamie, congratulations on what has been a truly remarkable career. Thank you for raising the bar at Leinster and for pushing us all to be better.”

Heaslip has also picked up 95 caps for Ireland, and has helped the team win three 6 Nations titles - including the 2009 Grand Slam.

He was also part of the British & Irish Lions tours in 2009 and 2013, picking up 12 caps during the tours in South Africa & Australia.