LEINSTER HEAD COACH Leo Cullen has paid tribute to Luke Fitzgerald after the 28-year-old was forced to retire on medical grounds.
The 34-time capped Irish international this morning called time on his career after sustaining a neck injury in the Pro12 final defeat to Connacht at Murrayfield.
Fitzgerald’s 10-year professional career saw him play at two World Cups, win a Six Nations title, three Heineken Cups, a Challenge Cup and three Pro12 crowns.
And Cullen, who started coaching Fitzgerald back in 2004 at Blackrock College, hailed him as one of the great Irish wingers.
“I actually coached Luke before I ever became a team mate of his, when I helped out with the Blackrock College Senior team in 2004. Although I spent the majority of my time with the forwards, you could clearly see even then as a fourth year, that Luke was a special talent,” Cullen said.
“I was lucky enough to have played with Luke from 2007 until I retired in 2014 and have spent the last couple of seasons coaching him.
“We are all gutted here at Leinster to hear that Luke has had to retire from the game. He has had an incredible career achieving almost everything there is to achieve in rugby. He will go down as one of the greatest wingers to have represented Leinster and Ireland.
“We will miss him greatly but we wish him every success in the next phase of his life. He will be a tremendous asset to wherever he focusses his efforts.”
Fitzgerald made 154 appearances for the eastern province, scoring 32 tries.
“We look forward to welcoming Luke and his family to the RDS in the season and the seasons ahead,” Cullen added.
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