Connacht Rugby have regrettably confirmed that Kyle Tonetti has retired from the game of rugby due to a long-standing ankle injury.
Commenting on his decision, Kyle Tonetti said: “I’m obviously very disappointed to have to make this decision at this stage of my career.
“After exhausting all options and going through numerous surgeries, I have come to terms with the fact that I will not be playing at this level again.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has been so supportive, especially over the last few months – my family, my girlfriend, friends and Connacht team-mates. And a particular thank you to the Connacht backroom staff for providing me with their best efforts to get me back on the pitch and accommodating me while injured.
“I would also like to strongly thank Eric Elwood and all of the great coaches I’ve played under for their support since my schooldays.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Connacht and I’m disappointed I haven’t been able to contribute as much as I had hoped.
“Although I was only fortunate enough to play in 18 games for the province, I have spent the last three seasons up at the Sportsground with this great group of people.
“The Connacht supporters provide an atmosphere at the Sportsground that is second to none and I’ll truly miss playing in front of them.”
The 26-year-old centre added: “Over the last number of months, being unable to play, I’ve had some time to prepare for this and I’m anxious and excited to move on to the next stage of my career…something all players have to do at some point in their lives.
“I believe there are great times ahead for the province under Pat Lam and the other coaches, and I wish Connacht the very best of luck in the future. I look forward to watching on as a supporter.”
Speaking about Tonetti, Connacht team manager Tim Allnutt said: “We’re disappointed for Kyle and sorry to see him forced to retire. When he played for us we saw what a superb talent he was and he is a big loss to both Connacht and Irish rugby.
“Throughout his time at Connacht, he has maintained a very high standard in training and in his rehab work. Despite the setbacks, he has always shown a positive attitude and been willing to contribute to the squad in other ways.
“He has been working very hard behind the scenes in other areas of his life and we wish him the very best of luck with his QFA finance exams which he will sit in the summer to add to his degree in Engineering.
“He can look back on what he has achieved in rugby with pride. Everyone at Connacht Rugby would like to wish him well with the next chapter in his life.”
Tonetti joined Connacht in November 2011 from English club Sale Sharks where he spent one season and earned 14 Premiership caps.
He quickly became ever-present in the Connacht squad, showing his versatility and ability to adapt by featuring at inside and outside centre as well as a few games on the wing.
He was awarded ‘Player of the Month’ following outstanding performances in games against Leinster, Toulouse and Harlequins in the 2011/12 season.
During his time at Connacht, Tonetti earned 18 senior caps with the past two campaigns dogged by a lengthy battle with injury.
Although he recovered sufficiently to play two more times for the province last season, the ankle injury had never fully recovered and following consultations with a number of medical teams, he was left with no choice but to hang up his boots.
A former pupil of St. Gerard’s School in Bray, he joined the Leinster Academy in 2007 and spent two years professionally contracted to the province, earning 21 Leinster ‘A’ caps and three senior caps before he made the move to Sale Sharks and then to Connacht.
Tonetti represented Ireland at Under-19 and Under-20 levels and was part of the Ireland U-20s’ Six Nations Grand Slam-winning team in 2007, under former Connacht head coach Eric Elwood and current assistant coach Dan McFarland.
Name: Kyle Tonetti
DOB: October 8, 1987
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa
Height: 1.85m (6ft 1in)
Weight: 93kg (14st 6lbs)
Club: Lansdowne FC
School: St. Gerard’s School, Bray
Connacht Caps: 18 (4 in Heineken Cup)
Connacht Debut: v Benetton Treviso at the Sportsground, December 2, 2011
Leinster Caps: 3
Leinster ‘A’ Caps: 21
Ireland Under-20 Caps: 3 (v France, Scotland, Italy)
Leinster Under-20 Caps: 2 (v Munster, Ulster)
Ireland Under-19 Cap: 1