'It's Pretty Sad' For Heaslip's Career To End This Way - Keith Wood
Keith Wood says it's unfortunate that former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip wasn't able to retire from rugby on his own terms.
The 34-year-old has been forced to call time on his career on medical advice after winning 95 caps for his country, three Six Nations titles, three Heineken Cups, three league winner's medals and a Challenge Cup.
Kildare-native Heaslip has been been out of action since withdrawing from last year's Six Nations game against England with what turned out to be a back problem.
He's had two operations to try to solve the issue but says hanging up his boots is now best for his "future well being".
He's been described as an "intelligent and incredibly robust player" by Ireland head-coach Joe Schmidt while former team-mate and now Leinster coach Leo Cullen says Heaslip "somehow always delivered big moments on big occasions".
Wood, a fellow former Irish captain, was speaking to Pat Kenny on Newstalk this morning about Heaslip's decision.
"In many respects for a guy who was delivered so much in the green of Ireland and the blue of Leinster for his whole career, it's kind of a bit of a damp squib. Injured, trying to come back and still coming to back and then for a career like that to come to an end on a cold and frosty morning, it's pretty sad really."
Heaslip won three Heineken Cups with Leinster / INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Heaslip spoke to the Leinster Rugby website after announcing his decision.
“A lot of players unfortunately don’t get the opportunity to bow out on their own terms but thankfully having taken my time and after medical advice and consultation with my wife and close family, I have taken this decision with my future well-being in mind.
“Since my rugby journey began pulling on a jersey in Naas, to Newbridge College and Dublin University, all I’ve ever wanted was to represent Leinster but I’ve been lucky enough to exceed even my own wildest dreams with a career that I am hugely proud of with Leinster, Ireland and with the British & Irish Lions."
Heaslip toured with the Lions in 2009 and 2013 / INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Heaslip made 229 appearances for Leinster across 12 seasons and says he's proud to have finished as a one club man.
Wood says it was "amazing" that the number eight remained loyal.
"There was always interest in him from overseas and yet he wanted to play in the blue jersey and he stayed there which is very impressive.
Heaslip has a number of business interests and Wood hopes that will help him in life after rugby.
"Transition is always painful...you lose that kind of laser focus that drives a huge part of your life. When I retired I thought I had a lot organised but the two or three years were still very difficult. He will want to still rehab his injury to make sure he's fully functional for his value of life and his kids and everything else for the rest of life. Once you stop you need to make sure you get your injuries healed for all the mundane things in life."
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