Cape Town - Former Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip announced his immediate
retirement on Monday, explaining he wished to protect his "future well
being" after a long-standing back injury.
Heaslip made his international debut in the 61-17 win over the Pacific Islands in November 2006 and captained the national side on 13 occasions.
Of his 95 Ireland caps he played the full 80 minutes on 72 occasions illustrating his value as both a player and a leader to the national team.
His last appearance in the green shirt was against Wales in the 2017 Six Nations Championship in Cardiff. He scored 13 tries for his country including the World Rugby Try of the Year against Italy in 2016.
He played his part in securing Ireland's first ever victory over the Springboks on South African soil in 2016 and just a couple of months later featured prominently in Ireland's historic first victory over New Zealand in Chicago.
Heaslip played at two Rugby World Cups featuring in all 10 of Ireland's games at the 2011 and 2015 tournaments.
A two time British and Irish Lion he made 5 Test appearances across the 2009 and 2013 tours of South Africa and Australia.
At provincial level he won three Heineken Cups, an Amlin Cup and three Celtic League/Pro12 titles with Leinster and was shortlisted for World Rugby Player of the Year in both 2009 and 2016.
IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora, said: "Jamie was one of the top players in world rugby over the course of his 11 year international career. He achieved so much in the game but at the same time was a great example for younger players with his professionalism, dedication and application on and off the field."
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt, said: "Jamie was an intelligent and incredibly robust player. The string of trophies he contributed to is lengthy, including 3 European Cups, 3 Six Nations, including the 2009 Grand Slam and a couple of Pro12 trophies thrown in for good measure.
"There are so many moments that spring to mind, whether it be his superb second half against Northampton in the 2011 Heineken Cup final or his clever line and tireless work ethic that combined to see him score the International Try of the Year two years ago, or his crucial try saving tackle on Stuart Hogg on 'Super Sunday', to help tip the balance in retaining the Six Nations trophy.
"Utterly professional, driven to succeed and a leader with the actions he delivered."