Newcastle Falcons centre Tane Tu’ipulotu has been forced to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect the club can confirm.
The 32-year-old Tongan, who re-joined the Falcons at the start of last term, has been advised by medical experts to retire due to a knee injury.
Tu’ipulotu first joined the northeaterners in the summer of 2008 from Super 15 side The Hurricanes where he spent three seasons, before making the switch to Japanese outfit Yamaha Jubilo at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
Following a year in the Far East, the Pacific Islander made a welcome return to Newcastle to help Dean Richards’ men secure promotion back to the Aviva Premiership at the first time of asking. Tu'ipulotu made 83 appearances in total for the Falcons during his two spells with the club.
“It’s a painfully tough decision for me to make to stop doing something that I’ve always loved since a young lad growing up in Tonga,” said Tu’ipulotu.
He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the coaches, staff and fans for supporting me throughout my career, and to all my fellow teammates both past and present.
“It’s been an honour to share my playing experience with them all.”
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “I’m disappointed and it’s a big blow to the team to lose someone of Tane’s calibre.
“Players of Tane’s quality don’t come around very often, and it’s a massive loss to the side.
“We wish him all the very best for the future.”