10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
His dedication, work ethos and all-round ability were recognised when he was upgraded to a full contract ahead of the start of the 2007/08 season on the back of a truly exceptional 18 months.
During that period, he captained both the Ireland Under-19s and Under-21s in their respective IRB World Championship in 2006, before leading the Ireland U-20s to an unprecedented Six Nations and Grand Slam double in 2007.
Pollock, who won five Ireland 'A' caps, made his Ulster senior debut as a replacement against the Ospreys in 2007 and won 45 caps for Ulster during his short career, captaining the side for the first time against Portugal in a friendly in November 2008.
Pollock will now return to full-time study at Queen's University. When he was offered a full contract by Ulster, he was two years into a medical degree.
Commenting on his decision to retire, he said: "It is with great sadness that I announce my early retirement from rugby. Whilst it was always my intention to resume my studies at Queen's, I never intended it to be quite so soon.
"My hip injury, however, has not resolved and I have been advised I am no longer able to achieve the level of fitness required to play professional rugby.
"I count myself very fortunate to have represented Ulster at every level from the schoolboys to the senior team and leading out Ulster in the Heineken Cup against Stade Francais in Paris was one of the most proudest moments of my rugby career.
"Rugby with Ulster has afforded me the privilege to play with and against many great players. Whilst doing so I have forged friendships and acquired memories that I will treasure for a long time to come.
"I will miss playing rugby and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have helped me throughout my career from my years at RSD to the present day.
"I will especially miss the warm reception that we, the players, get at Ravenhill from the best set of supporters in the Magners League.
"I wish the squad well for the rest of the season and in the years ahead. I will be cheering them on from the promenade."
On the news of Pollock's retirement, Ulster Rugby's operations director David Humphreys said: "Earmarked from an early age as a future Ulster captain, David's injury problems in recent years means that we only saw glimpses of his talent in the Ulster shirt.
"His retirement is a huge loss for Ulster Rugby but fortunately for David, he has a long-term future mapped out in the medical profession and a new challenge awaits him away from rugby."