David Wallace hung up his boots yesterday and could soon be joined by Denis Leamy who has admitted his future in the game is in doubt.
One of the toughest and most skilful forwards in the game over the past decade, the 30 year-old Tipperary man has played 57 times for Ireland and scored 150 points in 145 appearances for Munster, touching down their only try in the 2008 Heineken Cup final victory against Toulouse in Cardiff. He was a constant in Ireland’s Triple Crown winning sides of 2006 and ’07 and was involved in all five games in the Grand Slam campaign in ’09.
But a hip problem grew so serious last January that he was ruled out for the remainder of the season and he will find out later this month if he has a future in the game.
“It’ a very difficult injury and I have to see a consultant at the end of the month and obviously a lot depends on the advice he has to give,” said Leamy, who was attending a Bushmills Brothers training session at Thomond Park with Ulster and Ireland hooker and close friend Rory Best. “At the moment it’s positive but I do have a lot of concerns as to whether I can continue or not because there’s a lot of damage around the joint.
“The injuries that require surgery, there’s always that doubt but I wouldn’t be writing the obituary notice just yet. The minute you walk through the gates of a rugby team, you know that at one stage you’ll have to walk out the door as well. It’s a revolving door, you’d be under no illusions that some day it would come to an end and hopefully it won’t be for a while yet in my case.”
But it did come to an end for his team-mate David Wallace yesterday. Although the 35-year-old Munster, Ireland and Lions flanker insists he has come to terms with calling time on his remarkable career, he admitted it was a tough decision, especially considering his physical well-being other than the current injury.
“The last thing I was thinking about was retiring and even coming up to the six month mark I felt fine.
“Ironically the closer I came to getting back playing the more it went the other way, it was still giving me a bit of pain and there was no reason why I should have given it another few months because it was at a level where it wasn’t going to change much.
“Feeling the way I do outside of my knee, I would have hoped to play two, maybe even three more years and I don’t think my age would have restricted me. I felt like I did at 25 and there was no reason in my mind that I couldn’t have played on for a few more years.
“Neither do I think anyone else in that situation should be dictated to by numbers and figures; just go and be guided how your body feels.
“Ideally I would have wanted to play on, but when I sit and think about it for any longer than five seconds it’s plain to me what the [right] decision is; talking to medics, players, coaches, friends and family it was clear and it was quite easy mentally to make the decision.”
Wallace leaves with some very happy memories.
“The highlights? With Ireland it would be the Grand Slam, for me that’s a no-brainer, something that created a bit of history and being part of that team was something very special and I will really relish that.
“With Munster, it was obviously the two Heineken Cups and I don’t know if I can emotionally distinguish between the two.”
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