February 26, 2018 / 12:29 PM / 20 days ago

Former Ireland captain Heaslip retires on medical grounds

(Reuters) - Former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip has ended his playing career with immediate effect on medical advice, the 34-year-old said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO - Rugby Union - Ireland v Argentina - IRB Rugby World Cup 2015 Quarter Final - Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales - 18/10/15 . Ireland's Jamie Heaslip looks dejected after the game . Reuters / Toby Melville Livepic

Heaslip, who won 95 caps for Ireland and captained the national team 13 times, has struggled to recover from a back injury he suffered last year.

“I’ve had the time of my life on and off the rugby pitch but now it’s time for the next chapter,” he said on Twitter.

Number eight Heaslip played for Irish side Leinster and represented the British & Irish Lions in a senior career that began 14 years ago. He has not played for Ireland since facing Wales in last year’s Six Nations.

“My goal when I started my career 14 years ago was to leave the jersey that I wore in a better place and I hope I have done that,” Heaslip added.

The back-rower played in two Rugby World Cups - in 2011 and 2015 - and was nominated for world rugby’s player of the year award in 2009 and 2016.

Heaslip, a key player in Ireland’s Six Nations title-winning teams of 2014 and 2015, scored 13 tries for his country, including World Rugby’s try of the year against Italy in 2016.

“He achieved so much in the game but at the same time was a great example for younger players with his professionalism, dedication and application on and off the field,” Irish Rugby Football Union performance director David Nucifora said.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar, editing by Ed Osmond

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