Matthew Rees has announced he will call time on his playing career at the end of the season, bringing the curtain down on an almost 20 years operating at the highest level.
Hailing from Tonyrefail he started his career in the Pontypridd RFC academy, spending two seasons in the first team between 2001 and 2003 before signing on with the Celtic Warriors at the advent in of regional rugby.
Largely operating as understudy to Welsh international Mefin Davies, Rees made 17 appearances for the Warriors before moving West as the team disbanded and he joined the Scarlets where he would spend the next nine years, making 182 appearances in all competitions.
During this time he would make his Wales debut against the USA in 2005, going on to win 60 caps and have a hand in the 2008 and 2012 Grand Slams as well as the 2013 Championship win. He also played at the 2007 World Cup, and toured South Africa with the 2009 British and Irish Lions, starting two of the tests.
Joining Cardiff Blues in 2013 he would find his first season at the Arms Park interrupted by treatment for cancer, but an inspirational battle saw the man they call Smiler defeat that and to date he has made 96 appearances in the capital, recovering from an ACL tear in March last year.
Speaking to the Cardiff Blues website, Rees said “I’ve made my decision to retire based on a few reasons but mainly age isn’t on my side anymore and it’s been a tough journey with an injury like an ACL reconstruction and its rehabilitation. I’ve managed to get through that and I’m now able retire on my own terms after an illustrious career.
“I haven’t featured much this season because of the injury but now I want to go out on a high. We have three months left and hopefully I can play a part in those remaining games. The next few weeks are going to be huge, especially when you consider how tight it is in the league table.
“We’ve put ourselves in a decent position in the PRO14 and we have some big games coming up. We’ve had a taste of the Champions Cup again and that’s where this region wants to be and where the players want to challenge themselves.”