Ireland hooker Jerry Flannery said Wednesday he was retiring from the game with immediate effect due to a back injury.
The 33-year-old, capped 41 times by his country, helped Irish province Munster win two European Cups and was a member of the Ireland team that completed a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009.
Later that year he was selected for the British and Irish Lions, only to be ruled out of the tour of South Africa with a fractured elbow.
Flannery was then sent home from last year's World Cup in New Zealand with a recurrence of a calf injury before suffering the back problem that has now forced him to hang up his boots.
"I'm very sad to have to announce my immediate retirement from rugby due to injury," Flannery said in a statement issued by Munster on Wednesday.
"Since my injury at the 2011 World Cup, I've struggled to regain the level of fitness required to play at this level and after consulting with the medical staff at Munster and at Ireland I am announcing my retirement with immediate effect," he added.
"I would like to thank all the medical staff who have worked so hard on my behalf and shown great patience in dealing with me.
"I feel incredibly privileged to have played with so many great players with Munster and with Ireland.
"To train hard and win trophies for Munster and Ireland alongside some of my best friends has been an amazing experience.
"I'm incredibly grateful for all the opportunities rugby has given me to date and I would like to thank all my friends, family, coaches and team-mates for their support along the way.
"Finally I would like to thank all the Munster and Irish rugby fans who I have been so proud to represent over the course of my career, your level of support has been amazing and I can never thank you all enough. It's been emotional."
Flannery's final competitive match was for Ireland in their World Cup group win against the United States in September, before injury forced him out of the tournament.
Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald hailed Flannery as "an example to all young players" for his dedication and for his positive attitude "through adversity when it would have been easy to seek pity".
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