Munster’s Felix Jones has been forced to retire from rugby due to a neck injury sustained earlier this season.
Jones picked up the injury in Munster’s PRO 12 victory over the Glasgow Warriors at the beginning of this month. The full back made 90 appearances for the province and scored 10 tries.
“It is still unthinkable to believe I will never play another game of rugby,” Jones said.
“Although I have tried to round myself as an individual through education and other interests, I have always had one driving purpose in my life and that was to play rugby.
“I’m grateful I could do that in Munster. That feeling of walking out the tunnel in front of a packed Thomond Park is something I will never forget.
“To accept I will not play with my teammates again is beyond upsetting. I’m lucky to have played with so many great players, but rugby has given me something better and that is the people who are now life-long friends.
“I thank all the coaches I have been lucky enough to learn from and I look forward to seeing the development of our squad over the coming seasons.
“The guidance I have received from the medical teams in Munster and Ireland has been unfaltering. I would also like to acknowledge the consultants I have dealt with here and further abroad.
“I’m indebted to everyone who has helped me throughout my career from Seapoint my home club, Old Belvedere, Shannon and all the way up to representing Ireland. Without doubt the proudest moment of my career was being given the privilege to win my first cap for my country.
“It would be remiss of me not to mention the extensive support I have received from IRUPA not only at this moment in time but throughout my career also. I would encourage all players to engage with their players union.
“Finally, I would like to thank my family and close friends for their undying support on and off the pitch. I will draw upon this over the coming weeks as the situation presents itself as a nervous yet exciting junction in my life.”
Munster coach Anthony Foley had high praise for Jones: “We are all hugely disappointed for Felix. He was a leading example in the way he applied himself through his commitment, work-rate and attention to detail.
“For a player to come in, embody everything that is Munster and have such a presence within the group he will be sorely missed on and off the field.
“We are very grateful for Felix’s immense contribution over the last six years and wish him all the best for the future.”
Jones made the move from Leinster’s academy to Munster in 2009 and impressed greatly in his early appearances. Six games into his Munster career Jones suffered a serious neck injury against Connacht that nearly finished his career.
The 2010/2011 season was a breakthrough one for Jones as he starred in Munster’s Magners League winning season, beating Leinster in the May final.
He made his debut for Ireland that Autumn and was in with a chance of a World Cup place but injury struck once more in a warm up game against France,
Jones made 13 appearances in all for Ireland and was a part of the 2015 victorious Six Nations squad.
The Sandycove native captained Munster for the first time last season and also led the side on his final appearance.