Ireland and British & Irish Lions star Sean O’Brien has announced he will retire from rugby at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The back-row forward has called time on a 14-year career that saw him win 56 caps for Ireland while also registering five Test match appearances for the British & Irish Lions.
O’Brien last played for Ireland in the 2019 Six Nations but sadly missed the World Cup that same year with a hip injury.
He made 29 appearances in the Championship, starting 27 games. The highlight came in 2015 when his two tries helped Ireland to a 40-10 win away in Scotland on Super Saturday as they clinched the title ahead of England and Wales on points difference.
On his decision to retire, O’Brien said: “After much deliberation and consultation with my family and friends, I can confirm that I have decided to retire from playing professional rugby at the end of the season.
“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British & Irish Lions.
“As a 20-year-old, I fulfilled my childhood dream by pulling on the Leinster jersey, and when I made my debut against Cardiff Blues in 2008, I never imagined what would then follow over the next 14 years.
“A special mention must go to Colin McEntee for his ‘big brother’ approach when I joined the academy.
“I feel lucky to have experienced so many wonderful highlights over the course of my career.
“At an international level, I feel privileged to have won 56 caps for Ireland.
O’Brien spent 11 seasons with his home province of Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Heineken Champions Cups and a Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011.
The powerful ball-carrier joined London Irish in December 2019, becoming a fan favourite amongst the Exile supporters.
He excelled as a British and Irish Lion on two tours, first in Australia in 2013 and then in New Zealand in 2017, finishing off one of the all-time great Lions tries in the first Test in 2017.
He added: “I gave everything I could possibly give, and I will always look back with great pride at every time I pulled on the Irish jersey to represent my country, my county, my friends, and family.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the career I’ve had, but none of it would have been possible without the support of so many people.
“Firstly, I would like to thank my Mam and Dad for taking me to Ballon Rathoe Community Games and then Tullow RFC when I was eight years old.
“They took me to every sport in my area, which gave me exposure to all types of sport.
“They were the perfect role models who taught me not to be afraid of hard work, which certainly helped me progress in my career, and I can’t thank them enough.
“I was lucky to play alongside some great players and under some brilliant managers and coaches during my time at Tullow, Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the Lions, and I would like to thank every one of them.”