England flanker Tom Rees was today forced to concede defeat in his long battle with injury after retiring with immediate effect on medical advice.
The 27-year-old Wasps back row has failed to recover from the ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament incurred against Agen during pre-season.
It was the latest setback to a highly-promising career blighted by a succession of serious shoulder and knee problems.
Rees' retirement robs England of their most natural openside and a player who was viewed as a future Test captain before injury ruined the last three seasons.
"I'm gutted that I have been forced to retire at a time when I feel I could have contributed so much more to my club," Rees said.
"While I'll always think what might have been, I'll also look back on my career and what I achieved with a great deal of pride.
"Over the last nine years I've been privileged to take part in my hobby for a living and I'm extremely grateful for that opportunity."
Winning just 15 caps in five years was evidence of Rees' repeated visits to the treatment room.
The zenith of his international career was the 2008 tour to New Zealand, during which he was outstanding in both Tests with his performances earning favourable comparisons with All Black great Richie McCaw.
He represented England at almost all levels and was a member of the 2007 World Cup squad, playing in the group game against the USA.
"We all recognise Tom's qualities as a player and a person," England's interim head coach Stuart Lancaster said.
"It's going to be a shame that he will never be able to display his talent on the world stage again.
"However, he has tremendous attributes as an individual and a leader. I'm sure he will go on to become very successful in his future career."
Rees was named Wasps captain for the 2009-10 campaign but played just seven matches after undergoing shoulder surgery.
A shoulder reconstruction then forced him to miss the second half of last season, before injury struck once more last summer.
"This is incredibly sad news for Tom and for everyone at Wasps," Wasps director of rugby Dai Young said.
"His attitude and commitment to the club remained hugely constant even when he was out injured and I know his presence will be missed around the squad.
"Tom though is a very resilient and intelligent man and I have no doubt whatever he does with his career he will make a success of it.
"On behalf of everyone at Wasps I want to wish him all the best in the future. We will be here to support him in any way we can."
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