Schmidt is forced to retire

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Uli Schmidt, South Africa's most experienced current international, left a substantial hole in the Springboks' World Cup squad yesterday when a persistent neck injury forced him into premature retirement, writes Steve Bale.

The 34-year-old hooker had been persuaded out of a previous retirement when Kitch Christie became coach last year, and was one of the outstanding players on the Springboks' recent tour of Wales and Scotland, finishing his career with 17 caps.

Schmidt was an occasionally contentious figure, who declined to make the first post-apartheid tour to France and England in 1992, and once suggested blacks should stick to football.

His mobility and capacity for try-scoring will be missed by South Africa, especially as he leaves no obvious successor.