Witcombe calls it quits


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Former All Black Derren Witcombe will not be seen again on the rugby field according to the New Zealand Herald. Witcombe has called an end to a career that included five tests, 50 games for Northland and Auckland and 53 matches as hooker for the Blues after he picked up another serious neck injury,

“The whole thing is still sinking in. I’ve only had a few days to absorb it,” the 28-year-old said yesterday to the NZ Herald.

He showed strong form during this Super 14 season, but in Auckland’s opening provincial game against Counties Manukau the weight of a subsiding scrum damaged his neck again.

“My neck got compressed, I could feel it and I had pain down my arm,” he said yesterday.

Witcombe continued to play, but subsequent x-rays and scans revealed problems with different vertebrae to those he damaged two years ago.

The vertebrae that had been repaired were “solid, no problem there”, but elsewhere in his neck the space between vertebrae was compressed.

It was clear-cut as far as the specialist was concerned, and a second opinion confirmed that playing again would be very risky. Witcombe knew he had no choice.

“Nothing could have swayed me to go back,” he said. “I am getting married in November and I want to have a family life. I want to be mobile and to be able to play with my children if we have them.”

Blues chief executive Andy Dalton said: “Derren is a valuable member of the Auckland rugby and Blues family. I’m very disappointed for him, but he finishes his playing career on a high with an impressive Super 14 season and run in the Junior All Blacks.”

Derren Witcombe

Age: 28
Northland debut 2001, 20 matches
Auckland 30 matches
Blues 53 matches
All Blacks debut 2005, 5 tests


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