Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell is to join CJ Stander and Billy Holland in retirement at the season’s end.
The back row has played all 14 years of his career with his home province and racked up 186 appearances since his debut in 2007. O’Donnell also won 13 caps for Ireland and played a part in two Six Nations-winning campaigns.
Not a bad haul.
“It has been the greatest honour and privilege to represent Munster Rugby for the past 14 seasons,” the 33-year old said. “I feel it is the right time for me and my family to step away from rugby and this season will be my last.
“I’m proud to know that I will retire as a one-club man. I am confident and content in my decision, having chased the dream from the age of 16 through the youths, underage and academy systems to represent Munster and Ireland.
“While it is not the end just yet and I’m very much looking forward to contributing to the team in the final part of the season and new competition ahead, I felt the time was right to make my intentions to retire known.
“My family and I are looking forward to the new chapter ahead. My passion and belief in Munster Rugby will always remain unwavering. I look forward to looking on as a supporter and bringing my boys to experience the magic of a packed Thomond Park in the years to come.”
O’Donnell came through the ranks at Clanwilliam and played for UL Bohs in the AIL before stepping out onto the turf with Munster for the first time, against the Scarlets, 14 years ago. He was only 20 and still an academy player at the time.
He was part of the Ireland U20 Grand Slam-winning team of 2007 and was named Academy Player of the Year in 2009. He played in Munster’s win against Australia in Limerick in 2010 and was named the club’s player of the year in 2013.
He won a Grand Slam with he Ireland U20s ion 2007 and made a senior debut against the USA but a hip injury – one of many injuries to hamper him – cost him a chance to go to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
“Tommy has been a brilliant player for Munster Rugby and has made a massive contribution to this club, always giving 100% in every situation,” said head coach Johann van Graan. “A fantastic man on and off the field, he is a real leader and a hugely positive influence on the group.
“To play at such a high level for 14 seasons is a testament to his quality, his determination and his resilience. A one-club man, I can only thank Tommy for everything he has done for Munster but he still has a part to play for the remainder of the season.”