Wales captain Sam Warburton will retire from all rugby with immediate effect.
The 29-year old has not played since leading the British & Irish Lions to a drawn series against the All Blacks last year.
Warburton recently returned to training with the Cardiff Blues after recovering from knee and neck injuries but has since decided to hang up his boots.
‘My body is unable to give me back what I had hoped for on my return to training,’ Warburton said in a statement.
‘Unfortunately, after a long period of rest and rehabilitation, the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and well-being as a priority.
‘I cannot thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough, who have gone beyond the call of duty, in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful.’
Outgoing Wales coach Warren Gatland was left disappointed by Warburton’s decision.
‘He is an outstanding rugby player and he has brought so much to the game on and off the pitch.
‘His leadership, attitude and demeanour along with his performances have placed Sam up there as one of the best and most respected players in the world.
‘He finishes with a record that he should be extremely proud of and should look back on his career with huge pride,’ Gatland added.
Capped 74 times by Wales and a further five by the Lions, Warburton led his country a record 49 times.
Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images