Scarlets prop Iestyn Thomas has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of this season after ten campaigns at the Welsh region
The 35-year-old, who has appeared 214 times in a Scarlets shirt, with 60 points for his regional club, is one of Wales’ most experienced props.
He is one of three players in the squad with more than 200 appearances alongside Stephen Jones (315 games) and fellow prop Phil John (229).
Thomas joined the Scarlets in 2002 and has 33 caps for Wales after making his debut in his country’s victory against Samoa in 2000. He also played in Wales’ 2003 Rugby World Cup squad.
“It’s not easy to have to give up my rugby career but my neck injury is such now that it really is impossible to carry on - with a series of medical opinions telling me that it would be difficult for me to recover full strength even if I opted for surgery again,” Thomas told the Scarlets website.
“So, the advice I have been given by the surgeons is that I have to retire from the game.
“Ironically for me, I have been really enjoying playing some of the best rugby of my career in the past two seasons and it’s really difficult to let go to that now.
“I am grateful for all the great opportunities and experiences I have had in my rugby career and there’s a long list of brilliant memories. Playing for my country against New Zealand in 2003 will stay with me always, that was a great game. And then there’s the win away in Toulouse in 2006 on my 30th birthday and winning the Celtic League title in 2003/4.”
“I won’t miss the training and conditioning on a wet Tuesday afternoon as much though,” he smiled; “but the thrill of the game and competitiveness of match day has always given me the challenge to keep going despite the battering the body takes.
“I have been privileged to be part of Scarlets for such a long time and been part of the team through some real highs and played alongside some great players.
“That spirit in Scarlets rugby is still really burning - the young boys coming through have been an inspiration and energised us as senior players. It’s been great to be part of and watch some of these new generation of Scarlets push forward this season both in a Scarlets jersey and in the international set-up.
“I’d like to express my thanks all my Scarlets colleagues players and coaches, past and present for what they have done to support me in my career and to the medical staff who have looked after me.
“My thanks to the great Scarlets crowds and loyal supporters who are the lifeblood of our region and follow us at Parc y Scarlets and on our away games and match the spirit of this team with their great vocal support from the stands.”