WALES international and influential Warriors lock Jonathan Thomas has been forced to end his playing career at the age of 32.
Thomas, who helped guide Worcester back to the Aviva Premiership last season, was diagnosed with epilepsy last year which is thought to be from multiple head traumas and has led to a degree of brain injury.
Warriors high performance director Nick Johnston said he sought ‘the best medical opinion in the country’ in order to enable Thomas to prolong his career.
But following advice, the back-rower, who captained Worcester during the 2013/14 campaign, has now agreed to hang up his boots.
“It’s with real sadness I have to announce my retirement from the game with immediate effect,” he said.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy last season, which is thought to be from multiple head traumas and has led to a degree of brain injury.
“I’ve done everything in my power to keep playing, however, there comes a point when you realise you need to listen to medical experts and also do what’s best for your wellbeing.
“I’m keen to stress there are many different types of epilepsy and I’m fortunate to only suffer from it in a mild way compared to some. Naturally though, it has proved too difficult to continue as a professional athlete.”
During a successful international career amassing 67 appearances for Wales, Thomas played a starring role at the 2003 and 2007 Rugby World Cups and was named in eight consecutive Six Nations squads between 2004 and 2011, featuring in two Grand Slam winning teams.
At club level, Thomas enjoyed a ten-year spell at Welsh region Ospreys where he made a club-record equalling 188 appearances, including four league titles and an Anglo-Welsh cup.
He then moved to Sixways in 2013, making 44 appearances for Warriors in two seasons and director of rugby Dean Ryan hailed his work at the club.
“It’s with great sadness that after all his efforts Jonathan has had to concede his fight to continue playing rugby,,” Ryan said.
“This is a great opportunity to celebrate all of his success as a player but also to go on record in how grateful I am in the courageous decision he took to come and join me here at Warriors.
“Some of our greatest challenges have come during these first two years to ensure we redirect this Club to a more successful future and Jonathan’s actions have been fundamental to this.
“I wish him and his family success in their next steps in life.”