Jamie Heaslip: Former Ireland captain announces retirement as player

Jamie Heaslip was part of the 2009 and 2013 British and Irish Lions touring squads
Jamie Heaslip was part of the 2009 and 2013 British and Irish Lions touring squads

Former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip has ended his playing career at the age of 34 on medical advice in order to ensure his "future well being".

The number eight won 95 caps and played for Leinster and the British & Irish Lions, but has been unable to recover from a back injury suffered last year.

Heaslip made his Ireland debut in 2006 and led the side 13 times.

"I've had the time of my life on and off the rugby pitch but now it's time for the next chapter," he said.

"My goal when I started my career 14 years ago was to leave the jersey that I wore in a better place and I hope I have done that."

Heaslip - who played Test matches for the Lions in 2009 and 2013 - had a second operation on the lower part of his back last November, but has failed to make the desired recovery.

The back row has not played since March last year, when he completed the full 80 minutes against Wales in the Six Nations.

Heaslip played at two Rugby World Cups, featuring in all 10 of Ireland's games at the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.

He was part of the 2009 and victorious 2013 Lions tours and was nominated for World Rugby's Player of the Year in 2009 and 2016.

"Jamie was an intelligent and incredibly robust player," said Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.

"The string of trophies he contributed to is lengthy, including three European Cups, three Six Nations, including the 2009 Grand Slam, and a couple of Pro12 trophies thrown in for good measure."

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Analysis

BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter Chris Jones

Heaslip was due to start at number 8 for Ireland against England in the Six Nations this time last year, but he pulled out in the warm-up through injury. At the time it seemed innocuous but ultimately it has proved anything but; he hasn't played since and has now retired.

It brings to an end a fantastic career for club, country and the British and Irish Lions, with his performance in the third Lions Test against South Africa in 2009 one for the ages. A dynamic, ball-playing back-row forward, on his day Heaslip was one of the best in the world.