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Dublin: 12°C Saturday 19 September 2020

An All Black prop has been forced to retire due to concussion problems

27-year-old Ben Afeaki has called time on his rugby career.

Afeaki playing for the Maori All Blacks against Leicester in 2012.
Afeaki playing for the Maori All Blacks against Leicester in 2012.
Image: David Jones

ALL BLACK-CAPPED prop Ben Afeaki has been forced to retire from rugby at the age of 27 due to concussion problems.

The Chiefs front row hasn’t played since suffering a head injury during a Super Rugby match against the Crusaders in February of 2014, and has now made the difficult decision to call time on his career.

Afeaki expects to make a full recovery of his health, according to the Chiefs, but it appears the prop and his medical advisors feel the risk of another concussion is too great.

I am very fortunate that I have achieved some awesome things in rugby but now is the time that I have to make a decision that is best for my health long-term, and that is to retire from all rugby,” said Afeaki in the Chiefs’ official statement.

Afeaki was a star of the U19 Rugby World Cup in 2007 and also stood out in the U20 Junior World Championship a year later, as New Zealand won both tournaments.

The tighthead advanced into senior provincial rugby with North Harbour thereafter, before making his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2010 and going on to win a total of 36 caps for the franchise.

His one All Blacks cap came in 2013, when he appeared off the bench in a 23-13 win over Francewhile Afeaki has also featured for the Maori All Blacks.

Rugby Union - Tour Match - Leicester Tigers v Maori All Blacks - Welford Road Afeaki will receive support from the Chiefs and New Zealand Rugby. Source: EMPICS Sport

Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie says Afeaki will continue to be supported by New Zealand rugby into his retirement.

“Ben is an outstanding man who is highly respected and loved by all at the Chiefs. When he informed the team that he was retiring from rugby, it was very emotional,” said Rennie.

The haka they honoured him with was the most passionate and heartfelt I’ve ever witnessed.

“His phenomenal work rate and physicality played a massive part in our success in 2012-13 and he will be sorely missed. He has our full support in this decision and has used the past 14 months since his injury to clarify his future beyond his playing days. We are totally committed to assisting him in transitioning into the work force.”

In February, 26-year-old Cardiff Blues back row Rory Watts-Jones was also forced to retire due to concussion problems.

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Murray Kinsella

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