Neck injury forces Thompson to retire


Rugby:England hooker Steve Thompson has been forced to retire with immediate effect after suffering another neck injury.

Thompson has been experiencing numbness and dizziness since hitting a scrum machine in training with Wasps on October 26th and he will have an operation on Tuesday.

The 33-year-old briefly retired in 2007 after undergoing surgery on a different neck injury

but this time Thompson has been told there is no way back.

“I went to the specialist and he advised me it isn’t safe to carry on playing,” said Thompson.

The injury occurred two days before Thompson made his debut for Wasps, who he joined on a three-year contract from Leeds in the summer.

Thompson played for an hour in Wasps’ 14-12 win at Worcester

but that was to prove the final match of a career which brought him 73 England caps, three for the Lions and a 2003 World Cup-winners’ medal.

“I was gutted. I hit a scrum machine and it just went. I played 60 minutes at Worcester and that was it. I tried to convince myself it was fine and it wasn’t,” said Thompson.

“I went to the specialist and he advised me it isn’t safe to carry on playing. I need another operation, which will happen on Tuesday. I have had a lot of numbness and dizziness.

“I was enjoying rugby. I thought I had done alright at the World Cup, compared to how some of the lads went, and I was really looking forward to Wasps. Dai Young is someone I really wanted to play for.”

Thompson sent back an insurance payout of around €550,000 when he returned to action after his last neck injury, having received a second medical opinion that cleared him to play again.

The former Northampton, Brive and Leeds hooker forced his way back into the England set-up for the 2009 summer Tests against Argentina and he was the first-choice pick at this year’s World Cup. But a career of glittering highs ended with the double blow of a quarter-final exit from the World Cup and then a second neck injury.

“I have got to accept it this time. There is no way I can play,” added Thompson. “I can’t do what I need to do to earn a living. I scrum, that is what I do.

“The World Cup was hard. To finish the way it did was really disappointing and then to suffer another blow a few weeks afterwards

it is like a kick in the nuts.

“This operation will be more painful than the last one. I will take a break and see what opportunities come along the way.”