Former England captain Dylan Hartley has retired from rugby after failing to recover from a knee injury.
The hooker sustained the issue 11 months ago and it has prevented him from playing for his Premiership club Northampton since.
Hartley was capped 96 times by England and he says the last year has been a difficult period:
"The last few months have been difficult mentally and physically as I've come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete.
"I am extremely proud of my journey, both with Saints and representing England, but now is the right time to hang up my playing boots.
"I have loved my journey in rugby. I came to England as a teenager hoping to get a few games of rugby and to see the world," said New Zealand-born Hartley, who skippered England to Six Nations success in 2016.
"I could have never have predicted that one day I'd play 14 years for such a special club and go on to represent and captain England."
Yesterday Northampton's director of rugby Chris Boyd has spoken of his belief that the 33-year-old was approaching a return to action:
“He trained Monday and Tuesday this week and he is working hard. Some days there is plenty of light at the end of the tunnel and on others the curtain closes. I admire the way he has gone about his rehab and it has been tough on him physically and emotionally.
“He has stuck to it. I am not 100% sure that he will play again, but he is doing everything he can to get there. When he feels he is ready to be selected, he will tell me. I hope it will happen, but who knows?”
Everyone’s in the Team Of Us.
Vodafone. The Official Sponsor of the Irish Rugby Team.