Cardiff Blues number eight Nick Williams has called time on his professional rugby career after 16 years of playing at the top level.
The 36-year-old has decided to hang up his boots after the enforced break due to COVID-19, having played in New Zealand and right across Europe, as well as representing his country of birth at age grade level.
A late convert to Union having played League for much of his early years, Williams signed for North Harbour in the New Zealand Provincial Championship ahead of the 2004 season and went on to make his Super Rugby debut for Auckland Blues the following year.
After 60 games across both competitions for the two teams, he signed for Munster in the Magners League, as it was then, playing 19 times for the Irish side before heading for Aironi in Italy where he appeared 34 times, spending two years at each side.
It was at Ulster he really became a force in European rugby though, becoming a cult hero at Ravnehill where he helped them to a runner-up spot in the 2012/13 RaboDirect Pro12 as part of 76 appearances on four years for the Northern Irish side.
From there it was then to the Arms Park, where Williams again gained cult hero status, continuing his talismanic style of play in the eight jersey for Cardiff Blues, playing 77 times in four years and helping us win the 2017/18 European Challenge Cup.
Speaking to the official website, the big man said, “It’s sad not to have had one last run out at the Arms Park but with Covid-19, and everything that has come with it, there have been much bigger things to worry about. It is what it is.
“I have been blessed to play this game for so long and could never have imagined I would be a professional for 16 years and travel to so many brilliant places around the world.
“When I arrived in Cardiff, I knew this would be my last club and I have tried to make the most out of every singled minute. It has been a really special time and the welcome my family received has been unbelievable.
“Winning the European Challenge Cup a couple of years ago is an obvious highlight but I will also just miss the day to day and being with the boys around the place.
“I am so grateful and have nothing but love for everyone at the Arms Park, from teammates and coaches, to the brilliant staff and sponsors, who have also been great to me, and of course the awesome fans. It has been a hell of a ride and I’m grateful to all the teams I have been part of.
“If I could carry on playing then I would but the game has taken its toll and my wife has already sacrificed so much. I’m now looking forward to the next chapter with my family. We are settled here now, this is our home and I’m looking forward to sharing a beer with some of the supporters on the terrace when we get back to the Arms Park.”