Connacht have been rocked with a second retirement in a week with the announcement that prop Brett Wilkinson has been forced to quit rugby because of a neck injury.
Wilkinson (30) sustained a partial tear to ligaments in his neck against Saracens in January and on the advice of specialists has been advised to cease contact sports immediately.
The South African native was on the verge of the Ireland squad and actually travelled with the squad to New Zealand last year, but was never capped. He says the news has left him ‘devastated’.
“It has, of course, come as a big shock for me that I have to retire so suddenly. I’m devastated that I won’t play again but the nature of my injury was very serious and I haveto appreciate that I have my health,” said Wilkinson, who joined Connacht in 2006.
“The Connacht supporters are some of the best in the world and I’d like to thank them for welcoming me so openly to Galway and Connacht – a place I now call home.
“The backroom staff have also been fantastic throughout and especially in the last few weeks when I’ve been dealing with the news,” he said.
Despite Wilkinson’s retirement, Connacht’s bid to match their best ever winning run has been boosted with the confirmation that centre Dave McSharry will not now miss Sunday’s clash with Scarlets.
McSharry was expected to sit out this weekend’s game in Llanelli after he sustained a head injury in the bonus point win against Dragons last weekend, but he has since been past fit to resume action by the Connacht medical team.
Connacht claimed a third bonus point win in a row in Wales last weekend and can move into the coveted top six positions with a fifth consecutive victory this weekend against Scarlets on Sunday (2pm).