Cape Town - Retired Springbok and Cheetahs flank Juan Smith says his decision to end his rugby career feels like "death".
Smith, 31, was on Monday forced to end his playing career
due to an ongoing Achilles injury which has plagued him since February 2011.
Smith made his return to the playing field after a two-year absence against the Stormers last Saturday, and also had a solid game for the Cheetahs against the Bulls over the weekend.
However, an MRI scan on Monday forced the 69-Test veteran to call it a day.
"The worst thing is that I didn't take the decision by myself... it was done for me. And that makes it like death for me," a sad Smith told the Volksblad website
Smith singled out the Springboks' 2007 Rugby World Cup win as one of the greatest moment of his stellar career. He also had a soft spot for Free State and its fans and said he will always remember their stunning upset against the Bulls in the 2005 Currie Cup final.
"Free State rugby has always been very good for me. Yes I may not have earned the biggest salary here (Bloemfontein), but I was really happy on the playing field. They looked after me well and it's something I am extremely grateful for.
"I could have earned more money at various other places, but it's here where I was happy. I made unbelievable friends in my rugby career and will really miss the camaraderie," said Smith.