O'Shea forced into retirement

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London Irish captain Conor O'Shea has been forced to retire because of a persistent ankle injury. The 31-year-old, who featured for Ireland in both the 1995 and the 1999 Rugby World Cups, first sustained the injury when he dislocated his ankle and broke his leg in a Premiership match against Gloucester just under a year ago.

He remained optimistic of making a playing comeback throughout his 11 months on the sidelines - but after three operations on his ankle a consultation with his surgeon last week ended those hopes.

"I saw the consultant last week, and basically he told me if I keep on going I will run into too much difficulty in the long term," said the full back, who joined the Exiles in 1995 and has since then made 127 first-team appearances for the club. "I have been told that now I have got continued loading of the leg through training which will potentially lead to further degeneration of my ankle.

"I will be able to run, but twisting and turning and taking contact would not do my ankle any good at all. It could cause severe long-term problems."

O'Shea insists, though, that at the moment he has no intentions of severing his ties with Irish.

He has already joined the management board this season, helping player-coach Brendan Venter lift the Exiles into an unexpected third place in the Premiership.

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