It was the fans who gave me the courage
Springbok legend Juan Smith has given up his two-year battle to overcome a long-standing Achilles injury.
Smith on Monday confirmed that he has been forced to quit, after the injury flared up again - following two pre-season outings.
Smith, who was a key figure in the Boks' 2007 World Cup victory and played in 69 Tests since his debut 10 years ago, ruptured his Achilles in the opening round of the 2011 Super Rugby season.
He went under the knife four times in a desperate bid to return to the game - which the 31-year-old eventually did this month.
However, despite featuring in the encounters with the Stormers (which the Cheetahs won) and the Bulls (the men from Bloemfontein lost), Smith felt discomfort and went for a scan.
He confirmed the news of his retirement to the Bloemfontein-based Afrikaans newspaper Volksblad, saying he desperately wanted to play again.
"Were it not for the fans and my family, then I probably would have made the decision to retire much earlier," he told the newspaper,.
"It was the fans who gave me the courage to - after several disappointing operations - attempt to make a comeback to the rugby field this year.
"I appreciate all the support I received through the years from my family, Bok- and especially Free State supporters," he told Volksblad.