Ireland and Munster back row CJ Stander has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of this season.
South African-born Stander, who turns 31 next month, has earned Ireland 50 caps and played 150 times for Munster in addition to representing the Lions.
“I hereby publicly announce my retirement from all forms of rugby,” said Stander in a lengthy statement.
The forward, whose Munster and Ireland contracts end in June, plans to return home to his native South Africa.
“All professional sports people are told: ‘You will know when the time is right to hang up your boots. It’s a sentiment one cannot fully comprehend until that day arrives. For me, that time has come,” added Stander.
“I will be available to represent Munster until 27 June 2021 when my contract expires, and for international duty, until the end of the mid-year Test window.”
Stander said that he had done a “stocktake of what most most to me in life” during lockdown.
“My faith, family and this incredible game I have played since I was six years old easily topped the list.
“However, I came to the realisation that my commitment to rugby has started to take an unfair toll on my family, who both in Limerick and South Africa have made considerable sacrifices for more than 25 years to allow me to live my dream.
“I am not saddened by my decision. I’ve had a full and utterly enjoyable rugby career, and I can now look back on a journey that offered me rewards, memories and surprises beyond anything I could have scripted for myself. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
More to follow.