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Andy Powell Poignantly Reveals That A Knee Injury Wasn't The Real Reason He Retired

Andy Powell Poignantly Reveals That A Knee Injury Wasn't The Real Reason He Retired
Gavan Casey
By Gavan Casey
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In a week where Paul Kimmage labelled rugby players 'cowards' and claimed the sport is "played by guys with no moral courage," former Wales and Lions back row Andy Powell has opened up regarding his battle with depression.

Earlier this week, Powell - who had moved off the mainstream rugby grid to Merthyr RFC in his native Wales following an injury-plagued spell at Newport-Gwent Dragons - announced his retirement from the sport, after 23 caps for his country. One of the great 'characters' on the 2009 Lions tour, Powell's international career drew to a close prematurely due to a number of off-field indiscretions - not least driving a golf buggy down Cardiff's M4 while stocious drunk not hours after Wales beat Scotland in the 2010 Six Nations.


The 35-year-old initially cited his ongoing knee problem as cause to retire earlier this week, but two days after World Mental Health Day, Powell revealed that it was his mind, and not his body, which had suffered beneath the weight of the sport.

"The last year has been difficult," he said.

I've been suffering a bit with depression. I gave a statement the other day saying it was my knee, but it wasn't.

I've been thinking in the back of my mind for a long time, 'am I going to do it now?' It was tough but I've made the decision and it's a lot of weight off my shoulders, which I feel a lot better for.

I've been dealing with it for around 18 months. It's been tough, family problems and knowing when to call time on your career. It's done now and it does feel a lot better.

The former Cardiff and Wasps star also explained how he found it difficult to confront what he was experiencing mentally, but suggested that speaking out about his own mental health had been worthwhile, and offered him hope that he would battle past it as he once did the gain-line during his colourful career.

I started playing professionally when I was 17 and I'm 35 now. That's a long time in the game and your body takes a lot of beating. It was breaking me mentally as well.

I'm quite a strong character, I've got a lot of pride so it's hard for me to come out and speak about it. I'm a bit of a macho man on the pitch but everyone's got their soft side and for me to speak out is a massive thing.

My mum has been there for my whole career. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't have done what I've done. I'm getting through it. I see a light at the end of the tunnel, which is great.

The Welshman retires having scored 22 tries at club level in 204 appearances, earning 23 caps for his country and a call-up for the Lions' tour of South Africa in 2009.

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