Hurricanes and Wellington Lions prop Reggie Goodes has announced his retirement from rugby.
The 26-year-old has made the decision to end his playing career after taking medical advice following a series of concussions.
Goodes has not played since suffering a head knock during a pre-season match for the Hurricanes in February 2017, the third time he had been forced to take extended leave from the game due to concussion since 2014.
“I would have dearly loved to continue playing rugby, but there are more important things in life than sport and I have decided to put my family first and hang up my boots,” Goodes said. “Although I am pleased to say I am now symptom free the medical advice and my history of head knocks suggests there is a risk there that’s not worth taking.”
Goodes said he had received excellent support since he suffered his latest injury.
“I’d especially like to thank my wife Chelsea who has been there for me every step of the way, but also my past and present Hurricanes and Wellington coaches, teammates, management and medical staff who have all been incredibly understanding during what was a difficult time.
“Rugby has given me a lot of great memories, which I will always cherish but I am now looking forward, not backward. Chelsea and I have recently welcomed our daughter into the world and I’m excited about what the future holds as I enter the job market.”
During his enforced time on the sidelines Goodes began a degree in business studies, worked part-time for Ricoh and did volunteer community work around Wellington.
Last month he received the New Zealand Rugby Players Association 2017 Player Personal Development Award.
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said Goodes would be a loss to the team on and off the field.
“Reggie was a very talented player. He had a great work ethic around his training and preparation and he was genuine in everything he did. He was universally respected by his teammates and his sense of humour in the team environment will certainly be missed.
“We wish him all the best for life after rugby and I have no doubt he will be successful in whatever field he chooses to pursue.”
South African-born Goodes made his Hurricanes debut in 2012 and represented the club 60 times including during the championship winning 2016 season. His form in his final season earned him selection in the Barbarians where he was able to realise a career highlight in playing against his country of birth at Wembley Stadium.
His rugby talent emerged at Wellington College, then through the Poneke Football Club and into the Wellington Lions where he made his debut as a teenager in 2010 before going on to represent his province 45 times.
Wellington Rugby Chief Executive Steve Rogers said Goodes had been a true ambassador for the union’s values.
“Reg did the Lions jersey proud with his performances on the field, but equally he was a great asset to the union in other areas whether it was interacting with our sponsors or providing a role model for younger players.”
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said Goodes deserved credit for the way he had managed his injury.
“It’s always hugely disappointing when an athlete is forced to retire prematurely, but it is encouraging to see more players like Reg reporting their injuries and being guided by our medical staff to ensure they are not put at risk.
“New Zealand Rugby continue to do an extensive amount of work to reduce concussion in our game and cases like this are a reminder that we need to keep working hard in that area. We cannot eliminate the risk of a head knock, but we can significantly reduce the risk and ensure players receive the best possible advice as they contemplate a return to play.”