Ulster secondrow Pete Browne is to retire from rugby following advice from a neurological specialist that he has an increased propensity for concussion symptoms.
The 30-year-old played 30 times for Ulster after joining from London Welsh in 2015, with his last first-team appearance coming in a Pro 14 game against Leinster back in January. He also played for Harlequins and Newcastle Falcons.
Talking about his decision to retire from the game with immediate effect, Browne said: “Over the past couple of seasons, along with other injuries, I have suffered a number of concussions. In all of those cases (apart from my most recent head injury, which took longer), I have made a quick and full recovery and, thankfully, I have no long-term symptoms.
“However, through the expert medical care at Ulster, headed by Dr Webb, and having seen a neurological specialist, it is clear that I have an increased propensity for concussion symptoms following any head injury. Therefore, with that counsel, and after speaking to family, I have made the extremely tough decision to retire from the game I love.
“Looking at the situation rationally, and trying to remove emotion, the objective is my long-term health alongside all the other passions, hopes and goals I have for my life.
“I look back with thankfulness on a career spanning 12 years, from a bright-eyed (beardless) school kid in the Gloucester Academy to a student making his debut for Newcastle Falcons. I then moved to Harlequins and was fortunate to be part of the squad that won the Amlin Cup, Premiership and LV Cup. Then, after two very contrasting seasons at London Welsh as we won the Championship, and then were relegated, I was recruited by Ulster, and for that I will be forever thankful.
“Playing for Ulster has been an incredible privilege. Getting to follow in the footsteps of my father (who played for Ulster and Ireland Schools) by being part of this club fills me with pride and gratitude. I would like to thank the fans for their unwavering support, the coaches for all of their hard work and my team mates for their support and friendship throughout my time here.”
Ulster's operations director Bryn Cunningham paid tribute to Browne, saying: "I would like to thank Pete for the way in which he embraced his move to Ulster and made a positive contribution, not only within our environment, but also in the wider community.
“Pete will be missed around Kingspan Stadium but we fully understand his decision to retire and we wish him well in whatever he turns his hand to next.”