NEWPORT Gwent Dragons tighthead prop Nigel Hall has been forced to retire because of an Achilles injury.
The 32-year-old New Zealander was helped from the field in the Dragons’ Heineken Cup loss to Wasps at Cardiff City Stadium in December last year.
He has been forced to admit defeat in his bid to comeback from the injury and has hung up his boots after nearly three years with the Dragons.
Hall arrived at Rodney Parade from Nottingham in December 2008 but was able to make just 28 appearances from the region.
He was establishing himself in the side in 2009 but suffered a serious knee injury against Gloucester that led to six months on the sidelines.
Hall has expressed his frustration at being unable to make a bigger impact in Wales.
"I’m obviously disappointed at being forced to retire," he said. "It was always going to be really tough coming back from an injury like this but it’s still a big blow. I was at Nottingham for five years and played every game, so to have two major injuries in my time at the Dragons was really unlucky.
"I’d like to thank everyone at the Dragons for being so supportive during my rehabilitation. I was easy to move down here and fit in with the squad and I wish them the best of luck."
Hall, a solid-scrummaging, no-frills prop, was a popular figure with the Premiership clubs for his attitude and whole-hearted approach when sent out to get game time with them.
"Nigel has been a model professional during his time at the Dragons and his retirement will leave a big hole in our squad," said director of rugby Robert Beale.
Hall’s retirement leaves the Dragons down to just four tightheads, and three of them are currently on the treatment table. Ben Castle, Gethin Robinson and Dan Way are out of action, although the latter of the three is close to a return after suffering a shoulder injury against Connacht last month.
The Dragons have been forced to blood the inexperienced Nathan Buck in their absence – a chance that the 22-year-old has taken – with Bedwas front rower Keiron Jenkins backing him up from the bench.