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‘A fearless competitor’ – Seán O’Brien, former Leinster and Ireland star, retires from rugby at the end of the season

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Seán O’Brien, former Leinster and Ireland back-row, will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

“Brien will end his glittering 14-year career, which saw him become a global star at the height of his power.

O’Brien has had many injury struggles along the way but he won 56 caps for Ireland, played 126 games for Leinster while completing two Lions tours before joining London Irish in 2019.

The ‘Tullow Tank was a member of the Irish Six Nations winning squad in 2015 while winning four Heineken Cups, one Challenge Cup and five league medals with Leinster.

O’Brien was named European Player of the Year in 2011 as his reputation as one of the world’s top flankers continued to build.

“Seán will be remembered as one of the very special Leinster players, especially his achievements in helping Leinster win the Heineken Cup in 2011 and 2012,” said Leinster boss Leo Cullen, who played alongside O’Brien and trained him.

“He was a fearless competitor and he gave those around him incredible confidence.

“Seán has also made a huge impact at grassroots level, where he has done so much great work to help the game grow and inspire so many young players to believe that anything is possible.

“On behalf of everyone at Leinster Rugby, we would like to wish Seán every success for the future as he takes on new challenges in the next phase of his life.”

O’Brien will end his career at London Irish, where he made a huge impression under Declan Kidney and Les Kiss, especially off the field.

At 35 he says goodbye as an Irish great.

A statement from O’Brien said: “After much consideration and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have made the decision to retire from professional rugby at the end of the season.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am grateful for every second of my time with Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British and Irish Lions.

“As a 20-year-old I fulfilled my childhood dream by putting on the Leinster shirt and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008 I never imagined what would follow over the next 14 years. A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his “big brother” approach when I joined the Academy.

“I consider myself lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights in the course of my career.

“At international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland. I gave everything I could and I will look back with great pride every time I’ve put on the Ireland shirt to celebrate my country, my County, to represent , my friends and family.

“I’m very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had, but none of this would have been possible without the support of so many people.

“First of all I would like to thank my mum and dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games when I was eight and then to Tullow RFC. They took me to all sports in my area which gave me exposure to all sports. They were the perfect role models who taught me not to be afraid of hard work which has certainly helped me to advance my career.I can’t do them thank you enough.

“I’ve been fortunate to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time with Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions and I want to thank each and every one of them. I would also like to thank them The backroom staff at each of these clubs have been fantastic support during my time with them.

“I would like to say a special thank you to a few people who believed in me early in my career and who unfortunately are no longer with us. Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always told me the right thing and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I’m fortunate to have had such a close circle of friends that I’ve always been able to rely on throughout my career. Thank you to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.

“After all, the most important thank you goes to my family. I cannot thank my mom, dad, brothers (Stephen and William) and sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. It meant everything to me and having six nephews with me means the world to me.

“There’s still a lot of rugby to be played this season before it’s time to hang up my boots and I’m totally focused on giving it my all in the London Ireland shirt until then. I will soak up every minute I have on the pitch and look forward to helping the team in any way I can.

“I’m excited for the future and feel like I still have a lot to offer the game in whatever capacity. I am currently taking time to consider a number of options and will be making an announcement regarding the next phase of my career very soon.”

https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/a-fearless-competitor-former-leinster-and-ireland-star-sean-obrien-to-retire-from-rugby-at-end-of-season-41533155.html ‘A fearless competitor’ – Seán O’Brien, former Leinster and Ireland star, retires from rugby at the end of the season

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