Munster’s Damien Varley forced to retire because of a persistent foot injury

Gordon D’Arcy, Eoin Reddan and Zane Kirchner ready to return for Leinster


have confirmed the sad news that hooker

Damien Varley

has been forced to retire from rugby after failing to fully recover from a foot injury sustained at a training session in July 2013.


The 31-year-old Clare-born, former Garryowen, Wasps and Munster hooker, who won three caps for Ireland, exhausted all medical possibilities before making his decision. He played just one match this season when he came on as a replacement against Leinster in October.

Historic win

He made 121 appearances for the province, scoring 12 tries, and started in Munster’s historic win over


in Thomond Park in November 2010. He was hooker on the Magners League-winning Grand Final team that beat Leinster in 2011.

Varley captained the province on eight occasions, one of which was against Toulon when making his first Heineken Cup semi-final start in May 2014. He represented Ireland against Australia in June 2010, while his two other appearances were both against Argentina, the most recent taking place in June 2014. He also totted up four Ireland 'A' caps.

The Clare man admitted: “It is with great sadness that I have to announce my premature retirement. Like so many before me, I will look back at my time in Munster with immense pride and fondness, not only for the sport, but for the people that I have played with, worked with and the friendships I have made.

“I am privileged to have represented my province and country and I am hugely thankful for all the memories, and for the support I have received throughout my career.”

Varley, a talented musician who sang with Christy Moore at an Ireland squad get-together, has a degree in biomedical engineering and is now studying for an MBA.

Meanwhile, Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor has confirmed that Tom Denton, Noel Reid and Richardt Strauss will not be available for Friday night's game against Zebre at the RDS but that Eoin Reddan, Gordon D'Arcy and Zane Kirchner will be considered.

Joint sprain

Connacht will be without scrumhalf

Kieran Marmion

for Sunday’s Guinness Pro12 game against the Dragons at

Rodney Parade

. He sustained a grade one A/C joint sprain in the defeat by the Scarlets, an injury that is likely to keep him out only for this weekend.

Craig Ronaldson, who pulled a quad muscle in the warm-up prior to Connacht's European Challenge Cup match against Exeter Chiefs last month, has recovered from the problem and will be considered for the Dragons game.

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer