Connacht's Nathan White forced to retire

Connacht have lost influential prop Nathan White, who has been forced to retire following a concussion injury in March.

It is hugely disappointing news for the 35-years-old New Zealander who had become a huge presence for Connacht since his arrival here from Leinster in 2012.

Unassuming and down to earth, the former Waikato captain was a good fit for Connacht. A quiet but dynamic leader on and off the field, he earned his first international cap for Ireland aged 33 when he played in the Guinness Summer Series against Scotland as a replacement. Despite his late arrival on the international scene, he played in all five World Cup games in 2015 and the Six Nations, accumulating 13 Irish caps.

White said it was a disappointing end to his rugby career.

"While it's disappointing to finish up this way and not on my own terms, I feel I can look back at my rugby career with a lot of pride. I am retiring at 35 years of age and with so many great memories from my time playing in both New Zealand and Ireland.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time playing for Connacht Rugby and I'd like to thank everyone who welcomed us from day one - all the staff, management team, the supporters, volunteers and of course my team mates. Connacht is a unique place and I'm proud to say I was part of it all at such a special time for the club.

"I've worked with some great coaches here in Eric [Elwood] Dan [McFarland], Pat [Lam] and Jimmy [Duffy]. I'd like to thank them all, as well as Warren Gatland and Ian Foster for giving me my Super Rugby start in New Zealand, Chris Gibbes for making me captain of Waikato for my last two seasons there, and Craig Stevenson for his work with me as a young prop.

"Going back further, I am really grateful to all the people and coaches at the Te Awamutu Sports Rugby Club for their fantastic support as I came through the grades."

White also paid tribute to former Leinster and current Ireland coach Joe Schmidt who first brought him to Ireland and then into the international set-up.

"To have the chance to represent Ireland at the World Cup was an extremely special time in my life and something I will cherish forever.

"There have been plenty of ups and downs, mostly with injuries, but throughout it all my wife Bronwyn has been there as a constant support. She moved our family to Ireland so I could play rugby and is an incredible mother to our four kids Libby, Harry and Liam and the youngest George who was born in Galway. My parents have been a constant source of support for me throughout my life and I'm very thankful for everything they have done for me."

White said Galway had become home for his family, "thanks to the incredible people we met, especially our neighbours in Hazelwood who are now great friends".

"I'm not sure what exactly the future holds but I know I am really excited about it. I've loved my time as a player but feel I am ready to move on now and challenge myself in other ways."

Connacht Rugby CEO Willie Ruane said White had been an important part of the team and organisation over the last number of years.

"He has contributed a great deal to the culture here and has inspired so many young players with his leadership on and off the pitch. He will of course be sorely missed at Connacht Rugby, but he can be proud of what he has achieved both here and with Ireland. Our best wishes are with Nathan, Bronwyn and the children for the future and the next chapter of their lives."

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