Cape Town - Worcester lock Donncha O’Callaghan has confirmed he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of the season to spend more time with his family.
O'Callaghan has enjoyed an illustrious career. The 38-year-old is Munster's most capped player with 268 appearances over 17 seasons with the province.
He has won 94 caps for Ireland and four caps for the British and Irish Lions having toured twice with Lions in 2005 to New Zealand and 2009 to South Africa.
The veteran says being able to spend more time with his family and getting away from the game while he is still fit and healthy as the two main reasons for hanging up his boots.
“I am done,” he said. “It’s been great. I have had a great time. I love the game and I want to finish loving it. Honestly, body wise I feel great. The game is changing though and everyone is talking about it this season.
“Over the last three years, the physicality has gone through the roof.
“I’d love to be able to walk away from it and say I had a great time within it and be thankful to the game itself. I just look at my own crew. Guys like Denis Leamy is after getting a hip operation. I have four small kids, I want to be running around with them having fun. I don’t want to be stuck in goal in a five-a-side. You want to finish the game fit, healthy, and well. You want to be active.
“It’s definite right now (the decision to retire). My family need me around more. As much as I love rugby I love them more and I need to be there. That’s corny isn’t it? But that’s the way it is.”
O'Callaghan, who is club captain at Worcester, is still mulling over his next step after rugby and while he is not sure whether coaching is for him, he would still like to remain involved in the sport in some capacity.
“I don’t know. If you asked me right now I would say I would run a million miles from it. You don’t know the work that goes in on that end. It’s not that I am shy of work. I just feel it’s massively unthanked. Sometimes you look at every foreign coach at home before we look at our own," O'Callaghan said.
“There’s incredible talent under our roof. Credit to Leinster they have got the model absolutely right, with Leo Cullen there supported by Stuart Lancaster. When you see that happening again throughout the provinces it’s really good. But we have got to get it to a point where we empower our Irish coaches because they are fantastic. Everyone is learning from the Pat Lams, the Stuart Lancasters and even the Joe Schmidts.
“I would like to stay involved in some way and I have a few options. You learn from the guys who have stepped out of the game how well to do it. I will be honest, I have got so much out of it and I love it so much it would be wrong to step away. But I want it to be in a giving back capacity. I have been spoiled by the game, I really have.”