I would like to thank all involved at Sydney University Rugby Club where it started for me in 1999
Veteran Wallabies and Waratahs lock Dan Vickerman has finally called time on his career after an extended injury battle.
Following a return to the Test arena last year, his first since the 2008 Tri Nations campaign, the 63-Test Vickerman has been unable to return to the field in 2012 sidelined by a stress fracture in his rights tibia.
His decision to retire from all forms of the game comes after a lengthy and ultimately unsuccessful rehabilitation period that has seen him, working with the Waratahs and Wallabies’ medical teams, exhaust all possible surgical and non-surgical treatment options, including the insertion and removal of a metal rod from his lower leg.
"Having battled injury for the last while, it is disappointing that I have to call it a day on my playing days," Vickerman said. "But in saying that I have been extremely fortunate throughout my career to have played for the teams I have.
"To have had the privilege to represent my country is something I have never taken for granted and each game I have played in has been special," he added.
"I would like to thank all involved at Sydney University Rugby Club where it started for me in 1999, and those at the Brumbies, Waratahs and Wallabies.
"Rugby is a game in which you never stop learning and all the coaches and strength and conditioning team members I have had throughout my career have been fantastic to work with, so for that I would like to thank them all.
"The medical staff that have helped me over the years, in particular this year with the injury I have had, are owed a massive thank you. I would also like to thank all of the management and media staff for all their help off the field which certainly makes the job of preparing to play a lot easier," said Vickerman.
The South African born Vickerman who went to school at Bishops in Cape Town began his international career in Under-19 Springbok colours in 1999 before a move to Australia saw him selected in the Australian U21 side in 2000.
The 203cm lock made his Super Rugby debut for the Brumbies a year later in 2001 against the Sharks and went on to represent the men from Canberra on 33 occasions between 2001 and 2003.
During his second year at the Brumbies, Vickerman was selected for the Wallabies squad during the June Test series against France, making his debut from the bench in the second Test, which Australia won 31-25.
Vickerman missed out on the ensuing 2002 Bledisloe Cup Series, which Australia won.
However he returned for a Test against Argentina in Buenos Aires later that year where he secured his second Test cap with his first run on appearance in the Gold jersey.
In 2004 Vickerman joined the Waratahs where he accrued 11 caps in his first season before helping the New South Wales side to a Super Rugby Finals appearance in 2005.
Following the 2008 Tri Nations and after 55 Tests for the Wallabies, including two World Cup appearances in 2003 and 2007, and 51 Super Rugby caps between the Brumbies and the Waratahs, Vickerman moved to England to pursue his studies at Cambridge University.
After three years away from Australia Vickerman returned to the Waratahs and the Wallabies squads last year, earning a further two Super Rugby caps and eight Tests caps.
After making his Test return against Samoa, he featured in the Wallabies’ first Tri Nations title for 10 years, making his first two starts in the Tests against New Zealand.
Vickerman also ventured across the Tasman for his third World Cup campaign, where he featured in five games during the New Zealand campaign.
Paying tribute to the hard-nosed, aggressive lock, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans said VIckerman's achievement in returning last year, after a three-year gap between Tests, was remarkable.
"To be able to get himself back into shape - both physically and mentally - in order to compete against the best players in the world, was an insight into his character and his dedication," Deans said.
"It was particularly impressive considering he had completely stepped out of the game in order to prepare for his life beyond rugby. Nor did he let either himself or Australia down.
"He was a big factor in Australia's first Tri Nations tournament success for a decade.
"As a player, Dan is an uncompromising competitor who sets high standards for himself, and demands the same of those around him.
"He commands enormous respect, from team-mates and opponents alike, which says a lot about the man. It is a huge shame that he has been cut short by injury when he still had so much to offer," he added.