Connacht centre Keith Matthews, who has been forcd to retire, says he will remain a Connacht supporter for “the rest of my days”.
The popular Limerick-born player, who is in his seventh season with the province, admits being heartbroken when he was advised to retire . He ruptured his Achilles in training on April 14, not long after playing his 100th game for Connacht.
“I have had six good seasons with Connacht and enjoyed it,” he says. “ I'm delighted to have reached 100 caps for the province. It's a big milestone and it is great to know I'm up there on the 100 wall. It's something I'm very proud of.
“I love Galway and Connacht, and consider myself a Connacht man. I will support them for the rest of my days. This is hard to take, but I have to get on with it.”
Matthews admits the prospect of life after rugby is “scary”, but with an engineering degree behind him, and more recently having studied finance, the 29-years-old hopes to put some concrete plans in place after the Christmas break. He has continued his involvement in rugby, helping to coach Monivea over the last two seasons.
Coach Eric Elwood describes Matthews as a great professional who will be a masssive loss both on and off the pitch.
“He is one of those guys who does what it says on the tin. If you are running down the Keith Matthews’ channel, you will know about it because of his commitment. Keith is a doer and a giver, a player who always took responsibility and always did what was right for the team. It is important to recognise his contribution - a massive and a positive one that he has brough to Connacht over the last seven seasons.”
Matthews was first capped for Connacht in 2005 under Michael Bradley after finishing college. He made his debut for the Irish A team in 2009, and was a member of the Churchill Cup winning side that year. He won his 100th cap for Connacht against Edinburgh on April 1, this year.