The Blue Bulls have announced the retirement of front row forward Frik Kirsten due to an ongoing neck injury.
The former Junior Springbok suffered a neck injury in March while playing his 34th match for the Bulls and underwent surgery after that.
Although the surgery proved successful, medical advice was for the 26-year old player not to play rugby again.
Kirsten, who studied B.Comm (Accounting) at the University of Pretoria while playing professional rugby, graduated with an honours degree and will now pursue a career in accounting, hoping to become a chartered accountant.
The Bulls’ High Performance Manager Xander Janse van Rensburg, said it was sad to lose a player of Kirsten’s ability, but applauded the fact that the player prepared for a career after rugby while still playing.
“We continuously tell all our players, especially in our junior structures, that they should prepare themselves for situations where injuries can cut short their careers,” he told the Blue Bulls website.
“Frik is a fine example of someone who continued his studies despite his rugby career and can now face the future with confidence. He will leave a massive gap as a player and leader, but his health is more important than anything else.
“We want to thank him for his contribution to the Bulls family of which he was part from schoolboy level up to Vodacom Super Rugby. Go well Frik.”
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke, who picked Kirsten for the first time in 2009, thanked the player for his dedication and contribution towards the team.
“Frik was part of a great era and of the squads that won Super Rugby and Currie Cup titles,” said Ludeke.
“He was also called into the Springbok squad last year and had a great career ahead of him.
“It is very unfortunate to lose him now, as tighthead props are prime assets, but that is rugby and life. He will be missed, no doubt and we wish him well in his new career.”
Kirsten thanked the Pretoria-based franchise and his team mates.
“I had wonderful times at Loftus Versfeld and made friends for life,” he said.
“It was great being part of a fantastic squad who achieved many targets and milestones. It is not the ideal way to end the game, but I am fully focussed and prepared for the new phase of my life.
“I will still be around, supporting my younger brother, Jannes (Blue Bulls Under-21), and the rest of the boys. Allow me to thank all the supporters as well, as they kept us on our toes and often reminded us that we also played on their behalf.”