Andrew Conway celebrates after Munster's 2018 victory over Toulon. Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Bowing out

'It was always Munster' - Andrew Conway announces retirement from rugby

The 32-year-old has been advised to retire due to a knee injury and does so having become a fan favourite at Thomond Park and earned 30 caps for his country.

MUNSTER AND IRELAND wing Andrew Conway has retired from rugby with immediate effect citing the knee injury that kept him out of the game for 16 months.

Conway, 32, made his long-awaited return from injury in Munster’s URC opener against the Sharks last month and scored his 50th try on his 150th appearance for the southern province.

The Dubliner bows out as Munster’s third highest try-scorer of all time, and as a Triple Crown winner and World Cup player with Ireland for whom he scored 15 tries in 30 caps.

Confirming his decision to call time on his 14-year professional career, Conway paid tribute to the medical staff who had assisted him throughout — and especially during his arduous road back to match-fitness between June 2022 and his final Munster appearance last month.

He also described his 2013 move from Leinster to Munster as “the best decision I’ve ever made.”

“Unfortunately, I have been advised to retire from professional rugby because of a knee injury,” Conway said.

“An incredible amount of work has been put in by the Munster and IRFU medics to get me back and I can’t thank you all enough for your commitment.

“A special mention to Damien Mordan, Keith Fox, Dr. Jamie Kearns and Dr. Ciaran Cosgrave for your care and support through the years. Thank you to Rugby Players Ireland and my agents for your guidance in the past and into the future.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been coached by some fantastic people. Thank you all. In particular to Felix Jones for showing me the way, Andy Farrell for having such belief in me and Graham Rowntree for your support in these tough times.

“To my team-mates from my first Leinster cap in 2010 all the way to my last Munster cap last month. It was an honour to go to battle with you all. I’m more grateful than words can express.

“Thank you to all those in Blackrock College, Blackrock College RFC and Leinster Rugby for giving me my first opportunities in the game.”

Conway added:

My love for Munster goes back to the 2006 European Cup final in Cardiff with my dad. I’ll never forget walking into the stadium to see it full of red jerseys, the cameras panning to O’Connell street in Limerick… It was always Munster. To play for this great club was the best decision I ever made. Thank you to all the Munster supporters that embraced me as one of your own!

“Playing for Ireland was my dream come true. Singing the national anthem with my team-mates, watched on by family and friends was the proudest I’ve ever been.

“To my parents and sisters, thank you for your unconditional support over the years. Through the ups and downs I’ve always known you were there for me and it meant so much to share the journey with you all.

To my wife Liz, it’s no coincidence that my career started to take off when you moved down to Limerick. Your support and sacrifices over the years have driven me on more than you’ll ever know. Having you in the stands for game days always gave me comfort and I’ll forever cherish the last day with yourself and Hailey in Thomond Park.

“Lastly, I’ll miss the big days in red and green but not as much as the daily pursuit and shared team goal of reaching our potential.

“I’m not exactly sure what is next but I’m very excited to take all the learnings from the last 14 years into the next chapter.”

andrew-conway-runs-in-a-try Conway's final Munster try -- his 50th in 150th provincial caps. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Having starred for Blackrock College in school and Ireland U20s soon thereafter, Conway made 42 senior appearances for Leinster before switching to Munster in 2013.

He scored his first try for his adopted province against Cardiff Blues in November 2013 and dotted down on his Champions Cup debut against Sharks the following year.

Four years into his Munster career, Conway earned his first Ireland cap against England in the 2017 Six Nations.

A year later, he helped Ireland to their first test series victory on Australian soil since 1979.

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree described Conway as “a hugely respected and popular member of the squad” who had been “a fantastic player for Munster Rugby over the last 10 years.”

“Along with being outstanding on the field, Rowntree explained, “he is such an important part of the group off the field and a person who contributed so much to this province.

“He was a huge fans’ favourite and just an incredibly talented player who you could always rely on.

“He worked tirelessly to get back playing and I was delighted to see him score his 50th Munster try on his 150th appearance against Sharks last month.

“A brilliant professional, he has been a pleasure to work with and I know he is going to go on and enjoy more success in whatever he chooses to do next.

“We wish Andy and his family all the best.”

andrew-conway-celebrates-scoring-a-try-with-ross-byrne Conway scoring one of his 15 Ireland tries, against Wales during the 2020 Six Nations. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

Outgoing IRFU high performance director David Nucifora also paid tribute to the 30-cap international Conway, saying that the wing had “left a lasting mark on the game in Ireland”.

“Since bursting on the scene 13 years ago, Andrew made 192 provincial appearances and a further 30 Ireland senior caps.

“A Triple Crown winner in 2022, Andrew also featured in the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It is never an easy day for any professional athlete to hang up their boots, but Andrew’s dedication, professionalism and series of electrifying displays will live long in the memory.

“On behalf of the IRFU I would like to thank Andrew for his efforts and wish him and his family the very best in the next chapter of their lives together.”

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