Veteran Ireland and Munster hooker Jerry Flannery has announced his retirement from professional rugby, calling time on an injury-hit career.
The 33-year-old, who has struggled with injury for the past two seasons, played his last competitive game in Ireland's 2011 World Cup defeat of USA.
He recovered from the calf injury but subsequently suffered a back issue that despite exhaustive and thorough medical treatment forced his decision.
He joined Munster from Connacht at the start of 2003/04 and broke into the European squad in 2005/2006 playing in all nine games in Munster's run to glory. Injury confined his Heineken Cup appearances to three the following season but he was once again a central figure in 2007/08 as Munster captured the title for a second time.
In addition to the 94 caps he won with Munster, Flannery was capped 41 times by Ireland, starting in four of their five games in the 2009 Grand Slam. Later that year he was selected for the Lions only to be forced to withdraw with a fractured elbow.
"I'm very sad to have to announce my immediate retirement from rugby due to injury." the industrious hooker told Munster's official website on Wednesday.
"Since my injury at the 2011 World Cup, I've struggled to regain the level of fitness required to play at this level and after consulting with the medical staff at Munster and at Ireland I am announcing my retirement with immediate effect.
"I would like to thank all the medical staff who have worked so hard on my behalf and shown great patience in dealing with me." he continued. " I feel incredibly privileged to have played with so many great players with Munster and with Ireland. To train hard and win trophies for Munster and Ireland alongside some of my best friends has been an amazing experience. I'm incredibly grateful for all the opportunities rugby has given me to date and i would like to thank all my friends, family, coaches and teammates for their support along the way.
"Finally I would like to thank all the Munster and Irish rugby fans who I have been so proud to represent over the the course of my career, your level of support has been amazing and i can never thank you all enough. It's been emotional!"