Aaron Mauger has been forced into early retirement due to a persistent back injury.
The Leicester centre, capped 45 times by the All Blacks, and with 11 Heineken Cup appearences to his name, had been targeting an international return prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup but an injury picked up 12 months ago has failed to settle.
Mauger joined the Tigers from Canterbury and the Crusaders following New Zealand's quarter-final exit at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and he confirmed in January his intention to challenge for another shot at the Webb Ellis Cup.
"After many different specialist treatments in the UK and Germany, along with an intense rehab plan with the club medical staff at Leicester Tigers, I have been unable to regain full fitness and participate in full team training and games without re-injuring myself," he said. "So unfortunately retiring now seems the last but only realistic option available.
"I am gutted to be finishing my playing career many years before I had planned. This scenario also means I will have to let go of my aspirations of returning to play in New Zealand and my desire to compete for an All Black jersey again. I can now only wish every team that I have played for over my career all the best and thank all of the players and coaches over the years who have helped me to achieve and to enjoy the game as much as I have."
Despite his disappointment Mauger is keen to remain involved in the game when he returns to New Zealand in June.
"I have many special memories and they are ones that I will cherish forever. The game has given me so much and I am very grateful to rugby for the opportunities and the experiences it has provided for me to learn and grow," he said. "I plan to stay involved in the game and look forward to some new challenges that a different role might provide for me."
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