Connacht’s Brett Wilkinson forced by injury to retire

Prop (30) to walk away from the game on medical advice after sustaining neck injury

Connacht’s Brett Wilkinson has retired from the game. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

Connacht’s Brett Wilkinson has retired from the game. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho


Connacht Rugby has been shocked by the sudden retirement of long-serving prop Brett Wilkinson. The popular 30-year-old has been forced to retire from the sport immediately as a result of a recent neck injury.

The South African-born player, who has 183 caps for Connacht, damaged a neck ligament during Connacht’s final Heineken Cup game against Saracensand the medical advice was to immediately stop playing any contact sport.

Having joined the province eight years ago, Wilkinson established himself as a first choice prop since his debut against the Borders. He was also capped five times for the Irish Wolfhounds.

Although selected to travel to New Zealand with Ireland in 2012, his only game for his adopted country was in an uncapped friendly with the Barbarians.

“I’m devastated that I won’t play again, but the nature of my injury was very serious and I have to appreciate that I have my health,” said Wilkinson. “I have had time to get over the initial shock and I am just real grateful for all the opportunities I have had through rugby.

“Connacht has been building and building every year and, while I am sad I won’t be a part of it in the same way anymore, I’m excited to follow its progress as a supporter and a friend.”

Having worked under Michael Bradley, Eric Elwood, and now Pat Lam, Wilkinson paid special thanks to assistant coach Dan McFarland whom, he said, had “influenced my game in so many ways”.

Lam described Wilkinson as a “true team man” and added: “He is not afraid of hard work, and represents what it is to be a Connacht man and wear the Connacht jersey.

“The work he did this season with Dan (McFarland) to improve his game was phenomenal and he has been so reliable for us on and off the pitch. For now, he will remain a big part of the squad as we look to finish the season on a high.”

From the Eastern Cape in South Africa, Wilkinson won a scholarship from school to the University of Cape Town, but has played all his club rugby with Connacht.

Engaged to an Irish woman, he was granted Irish Citizenship last year and plans to remain in Ireland

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