Hurricanes and Wellington prop Reggie Goodes has announced his retirement from rugby due to concussion.
The 26-year-old has made the decision to end his playing career after taking medical advice.
Goodes has not played since suffering a head knock during a pre-season match for the Hurricanes in February last year, the third time he had been forced to take extended leave from the game due to concussion since 2014.
Goodes is the second Hurricane in two years to call it quits due to concussion, following former All Black James Broadhurst’s retirement last year.
Former All Black prop Ben Afeaki is among several others who’ve stepped away from the game after a long battle with concussion.
“I would have dearly loved to continue playing rugby, but there are more important things in life than sport and I have decided to put my family first and hang up my boots,” Goodes said.
“Although I am pleased to say I am now feeling good the medical advice and my history of head knocks suggests there is a risk there that’s not worth taking.”
Goodes said he had received excellent support since he suffered his latest injury.
“I’d especially like to thank my wife Chelsea who has been there for me every step of the way, but also my past and present Hurricanes and Wellington coaches, team-mates, management and medical staff and all the fans who have all been incredibly understanding during what was a difficult time.
“Rugby has given me a lot of great memories, which I will always cherish but I am now looking forward, not backward. Chelsea and I have recently welcomed our daughter into the world and I’m excited about what the future holds as I enter the job market.”
During his enforced time on the sidelines Goodes began a degree in business studies, worked part-time for Rich and did volunteer community work around Wellington.
Last month he won the New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association 2017 Player Personal Development Award.
Hurricanes coach Chris Body said Goodes would be a loss to the team on and off the field.
“Reggie was a very talented player. He had a great work ethic around his training and preparation and he was genuine in everything he did. He was universally respected by his team-mates and his sense of humour in the team environment will certainly be missed.
“We wish him all the best for life after rugby and I have no doubt he will be successful in whatever field he chooses to pursue.”
South African-born Goodes made his Hurricanes debut in 2012 and represented the club 60 times including during the championship winning 2016 season. His form in his final season earned him selection in the Barbarians where he was able to realise a career highlight in playing against his country of birth at Wembley Stadium.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said Goodes deserved credit for the way he had managed his injury and said the NZR needs to keep working to reduce the amount of concussions in the sport.
“It’s always hugely disappointing when an athlete is forced to retire prematurely, but it is encouraging to see more players like Reg reporting their injuries and being guided by our medical staff to ensure they are not put at risk.
“New Zealand Rugby continue to do an extensive amount of work to reduce concussion in our game and cases like this are a reminder that we need to keep working hard in that area. We cannot eliminate the risk of a head knock, but we can significantly reduce the risk and ensure players receive the best possible advice as they contemplate a return to play.”