Gethin Jenkins to retire after Zebre

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Cardiff Blues, Wales and British and Irish Lions legend Gethin Jenkins will call time on his playing career this weekend.

The 37-year-old has failed to overcome a chronic knee injury, therefore will play one final time against Zebre on Sunday before hanging up his boots.

Jenkins started his career at Pontypridd after coming through the ranks at Beddau, before joining the Celtic Warriors at the advent of regional rugby in 2003.

When the Warriors went bust he moved to the Arms Park, and has subsequently made 194 Cardiff Blues appearances, second on the post-2003 appearances list behind Fa’ao Filise, either side of a Heineken Cup winning season at Toulon.

At the same time the man they call Melon won 129 Wales caps, making him Wales’ most capped player and the most capped loosehead in world rugby. He won four Six Nations titles, including three Grand Slams.

Jenkins also won British and Irish Lions test caps on the 2005 and 2009 tours, as he was widely regarded to be the best loosehead prop in the world for many years.

In recent years he has played solely for Cardiff Blues, last playing for the first team in the European Challenge Cup semi-final against Pau in April, sending the team to Bilbao where he would receive his second winner’s medal from the second tier competition.

Over the last two months he has been the defence coach for Cardiff Blues A in the Celtic Cup, turning out for the side in the last two games of the tournament, and it will be in the pathway that his post-playing future lies.

Gethin will now take up a coaching role within the Cardiff Blues Academy, passing on his vast knowledge to the next generation of stars at the Arms Park.

Speaking to the official Cardiff Blues website about his decision, Jenkins said, “I have been working hard rehabbing over the last three months and I was confident I was going to be back playing so it’s disappointing to be retiring after Sunday’s game against Zebre.

“It’s obviously a big decision but I’ve had a good innings, it’s time to finish and I’m looking forward to one more run out on the weekend and hopefully finishing on a high.

“The pain I have been experiencing from rugby, in my daily life, simply isn’t tolerable but it’s important to me that after all the work I have put in, I run out with my team one last time and finish on my own terms.

“I have so many memories from over the years and could stay here all day listing them but the biggest thing I will miss is that camaraderie with the boys, the buzz of running out and playing, and the feeling in the changing rooms after a win.

“I’m very proud of everything I have achieved in my career, particularly captaining the Blues in the previous three seasons. None of it would have been possible without my parents and the 2005 Grand Slam always stands out as Mum and Dad were both there supporting me.

“I’m very grateful to Peter Thomas, the entire club and its brilliant supporters for everything they have given me over the years, and also Gruff Rees and John Mulvihill for making this transition from playing to coaching a smooth one.

“I am hanging up my boots with the club in a strong position and while missing last season’s European Challenge Cup was personally devastating, I was immensely proud of the culture, environment and legacy we have built.” 

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