DARRELL Goulding has been forced to retire with immediate effect, aged just 27.
The former Wigan favourite - who moved to Hull KR in the off-season after nine years with his hometown club - has made the decision on medical after after suffering a series of concussions.
He said: “I’ve had a lot of head injuries and concussions over the years and it’s probably a case of picking up one too many.
“Obviously, I’m gutted because I never expected to retire at 27 and I’ve been really enjoying my time with Rovers, so it’s come as a massive shock really.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of medical people and specialists and they’re concerned about the long-term damage I could do by playing on. I’ve got to think about my health after rugby and while every player just wants to get back out on the field, the time comes where you’ve got to listen to what these people are telling you.
“I’d stay like to stay involved in the sport in some way. It’s what I’ve known for so many years, I’ve got a lot of experience out on the field and probably helping the younger players coming through is what I’ll be looking at.
“I might take a bit of time off, have a holiday and take a bit of time away from the game and then come back ready to help the sport in a different way.”
Goulding joined Wigan from St Pat’s amateur club and quickly made an impression at his hometown club.
He made his first-team debut as a teenager in 2005 and went on to make 174 appearances. He scored 72 tries for the Warriors - and provided many more for his wingers with his stylish, unselfish centre play.
In 2010, he helped Wigan to Grand Final glory and was called into the England squad. He was also in the side which won a league and Cup double in 2013, before leaving at the end of last season to join to Hull KR.
Goulding had made a promising start to his career with the Robins before suffering a concussion against Huddersfield on Easter Monday.
Warriors were quick to pay tribute to his stellar career. Rugby director Kris Radlinski said: “Darrell is a very unassuming guy and the definition of a team player.
“A true centre with subtle skills, he could create opportunities out of nothing and Josh Charnley owes him so much for creating so many tries for him. He should be very proud at what he has achieved in his career.
“I met him last week and he told me all about his decision and asked about the transition. The retirement of a rugby player is inevitable, every player knows it is coming but nothing prepares you for knowing that you will never lace up the boots again.
“This is another reminder that the game we love is played by great athletes who put their careers and livelihood on the line every time they take the field.”