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Injury forces Matthews' retirement from rugby

“It’s heartbreaking being told your rugby career is over,” admits Connacht centre Keith Matthews.

CONNACHT CENTURION KEITH MATTHEWS has spoken of his heartbreak after being forced to call time on his professional rugby career.

The 29-year-old centre, who adds his name to a growing list of Irish stars forced into premature retirement by injury, announced his decision to reluctantly call it quits this morning.

Matthews never fully recovered after rupturing his Achilles’ tendon during a pre-match captain’s run in April, just 13 days after making his landmark 100th appearance for the province.

A native of Limerick, Matthews made his Connacht debut in 2005 following a brief spell with Munster’s development squad.

He went on to become a regular in midfield under both Michael Bradley and Eric Elwood, earning his 100th cap alongside hooker Adrian Flavin in a 27-23 Magners League win over Edinburgh.

“It’s heartbreaking being told your rugby career is over but I’ve had a little bit of time to get my head around it,” Matthews admitted this morning. “Though it’s a bit daunting thinking of a life without rugby in it, as one chapter closes another opens so I’ll keep myself busy and just get on with it.”

It’ll be hard not playing anymore, standing in the terraces watching the guys play against Toulouse in the Heineken Cup and knowing I’ll never hear the roar of the crowd after a good break or a good tackle. That was one of things that really hit home and that was pretty tough but I have no regrets at all.

“I like to think that every time I pulled on the green jersey I gave it my best. Yeah, I made mistakes. I’m only human but I always gave it 100%.”

As well as his dedicated service to Connacht, Matthews won seven caps for the Ireland “A” squad and was part of the team which won the Churchill Cup in 2009.

Although determined to stay involved in the game through coaching, Matthews said that he is also considering going back to college to do a post-graduate degree in Chartered Accountancy.

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Niall Kelly

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