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Wales and Ospreys winger forced to retire at 25 after back surgery

Eli Walker made his international debut against Ireland back in 2015.

Walker played 81 times for Ospreys.
Walker played 81 times for Ospreys.
Image: Camerasport/INPHO

OSPREYS WINGER ELI Walker has made the difficult decision to retire from professional rugby on medical grounds following back surgery last year.

The 25-year-old, who won his only Wales cap against Ireland back in August 2015, has been unable to make a complete recovery from the injury and in consultation with specialists, decided the best move was to call time on his career.

“It is extremely difficult thing to do, acknowledging and making the decision that you have to retire from the game but it is absolutely the right thing for me to do,” he said, in a statement released this afternoon.

“I’ve worked hard to try to get back to where I was pre-surgery but, unfortunately, I recognise that I am not going to be able to do so.”

Walker made his senior debut for the Ospreys as an 18-year-old, coming off the bench in a win over Aironi in September 2010, and went onto make a total of 81 appearances for the Welsh region, scoring 23 tries.

Capped by Wales across all the age-grades and named in several international senior squads, his one cap came against Ireland in the pre-World Cup fixture in 2015.

His last appearance for the Ospreys was in a 31-7 win against the Blues at Cardiff Arms Park at the end of 2016.

“I’m thankful for the support I’ve had from my family and from the Ospreys during what has been a tough period for me personally,” Walker added.

RUGBYU-NZL-WAL-CHIEFS Walker in action for Wales during their tour game against Waikato Chiefs in June 2016. Source: AFP/Getty Images

“I’m immensely proud of everything I’ve achieved on the rugby pitch, be that playing for Swansea, representing my home region, the Ospreys, or gaining my full Wales cap and without the support of my mother, in particular, I wouldn’t have able to achieve anything like I have in my career.

“There are so many fantastic memories that will live with me forever and the sport has allowed me to meet some fantastic people who are now firm friends, and experience some great places. I consider myself fortunate.

“The supporters at the Ospreys have always been great for me and now I’m one of you. Although I’ll no longer be playing for the team I’ll always be an Osprey, whatever my next step is.”

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Ryan Bailey

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