Vickerman set to retire

2012-02-16 10:50
Dan Vickerman (File)
Sydney - Dan Vickerman may have played his last game for the Waratahs and Wallabies, with injury concerns understood to have him contemplating retirement.

High-ranking NSW sources told the Herald on Wednesday that the exceptional Test second-rower could be forced to give football away within the next few weeks due to a stress fracture to his leg, and that it was highly unlikely he would be involved in this year's Waratahs Super Rugby campaign, which starts on Saturday next week.

A source close to the 32-year-old Test player said he was expected to decide within days.

Several days ago, the NSW Rugby Union provided an injury list that revealed Vickerman was not expected to return to the Waratahs until April because of a shoulder injury. After last year's Rugby World Cup, he underwent a shoulder reconstruction to fix a problem that he played with during the tournament.

Vickerman, a veteran of 63 Tests and 92 provincial caps with NSW, the Brumbies and Northampton, was a non-attendee at yesterday's Waratahs season launch in Sydney.

Waratahs officials later explained that he was instead receiving ''ongoing treatment'' to his leg. Even before the lunch, sources were saying that he was ''seriously contemplating pulling the pin''.

Vickerman's unavailability might also explain the unexpected appearance of former Brumbies captain and back-rower Stephen Hoiles at Waratahs training this week. Hoiles was invited to train with the Waratahs after being released by the Brumbies, and if a forward spot becomes open through the departure of Vickerman, the popular former NSW player might get it.

If, as expected, Vickerman farewells the Waratahs, it will be an enormous blow for the province striving for their first Super Rugby title. They were relying on his expertise and leadership skills this season.

So highly did they rate him that he was recently included in the team's leadership group.

Vickerman enjoys the same esteem within the Wallabies, with coach Robbie Deans one of his most loyal supporters.

Deans and Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill were crucial in ensuring that Vickerman returned to Australian Rugby last year after he had completed his studies at Cambridge University.

For several seasons Vickerman put his football career on hold to complete a land economy degree, but shortly after returning to Sydney last year was rushed into the Waratahs squad. Deans, long a fan of his abrasive, physical style, soon had him involved with the Wallabies.

NSW start their season without Wallabies wing Lachie Turner, who is expected to miss the season with a hamstring tear, while Drew Mitchell has said he will not be fit for the first game.

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