Former Welsh skipper Sam Warburton has revealed that his body ultimately forced him to retire, stating that not being able to represent his country again also played a part in the premature end to his career, Sky Sports report.
Warburton, who earned 74 caps for Wales and captained two successful British and Irish Lions tours, announced his surprise retirement in July, after failing to recover fully from previous neck and knee injuries.
The flanker, who last played competitively in the final British and Irish Lions Test against New Zealand a year ago, could not regain his fitness during pre-season training with Cardiff Blues.
Talking to the Times, the 29-year-old gave a real insight into what it was like for him towards the end of his career.
I remember saying to the physio, ‘I’m fine but when I tackle or run, that’s when I get pain’. He was like, ‘That is a bit of a problem doing what you do’.
I didn’t want to be that player who was just hanging on, holding a pad. If I couldn’t get to the heights I wanted to, I’d rather just call it a day.
The former captain also went on to reveal the exact moment he knew he was edging closer to retirement, admitting he was losing focus during training sessions.
If I couldn’t get to an international standard, I was not going to do it and I could tell I wasn’t going to make that after about a week’s training. My body just couldn’t cope with the volume of running anymore.
We finished our session and we were in a huddle. Some of the senior players and coaches were talking and I remember not being as focused as I should have been, looking at the grass.
I was just thinking, ‘This is it. I have found that session so hard, what with all the changing of direction. My knees are so sore’.