THE Scarlets have hailed the contribution of Morgan Stoddart after the Wales cap was forced to announce his retirement from rugby because of injury.
The 28-year-old full-back hasn't fully recovered from the horrific double leg fracture he suffered in the World Cup warm-up match against England at Twickenham in August 2011.
After 14 months on the sidelines, Stoddart did make a brief return to action this season, scoring a try in his comeback game against the Dragons in October. But he continued to experience pain in his leg after games and following extensive scans and medical consultations has been advised to hang up his boots.
He made his final appearance in the win over Munster in Cork at the end of November.
Stoddart made 85 appearances for the Scarlets over seven seasons, winning eight caps for Wales. He was plagued by injury throughout his career, but at his peak was a devastating counter-attacking runner with an ability to break tackles and a sharp eye for the tryline.
"It is very disappointing for Morgan and for all the Scarlets team and our supporters to see a player of his ability and quality forced to retire early," said Scarlets head coach Simon Easterby.
"He's been a player of real class and quality within our regional ranks ever since he joined the Scarlets and a player that you can rely on to make a difference in games and give you an edge.
"He has worked so hard to try to recover from this horrific injury and credit to him for even getting that close. That shows his great mental strength and commitment.
"We are very sorry to see him go and every one of the team and I am sure all our supporters wish him all our very best in his future life off the field and as Scarlets we will support him as much as we can in whatever he chooses to do."
Stoddart admitted it has been a difficult couple of months coming to terms with the fact that his rugby career is over.
He said: "I worked as hard as possible in the year I was off to get back on the pitch and that can be a difficult period for any injured player mentally, as well as physically, but I was determined to get back to playing. But ever since I've been back on the field I've had significant pain in the leg throughout and that has not improved.
"Following a series of medical tests and consultations, detailed scans and strength tests, I've been advised that I cannot continue.
"It's not easy to give up your rugby career but when it really is impossible to carry on you just have to accept it and get on with it.
"I have some great memories that I will never forget and the Scarlets and all our supporters have been fantastic over the years.
"It was an honour to play in the Scarlets shirt, with all the great names that have been part of our region throughout our history and a pleasure to play in front of our Scarlets supporters who are the life and soul of our region.
"I'm grateful for all the great opportunities and experiences I have had in my rugby career and there are many brilliant memories including the Heineken Cup and playing for my country.
"I owe a great amount to the physios and doctors who have given me so much time and commitment to help try and get my leg right. Without their support and encouragement it could have been a dark 14 months in recovery.
"I would also like to thank all the coaches I have worked with from my first games in the Rhondda up to international level."
On life after rugby, Stoddart, who has been studying bio-chemistry, said: "I'll have to adapt and it's important to give yourself time to consider things in the future after such an intense life playing rugby.
"But I have already started thinking ahead and there are many exciting opportunities for me to look at and take forward which will keep me occupied now."