Health issues force Brumbies' Ita Vaea into retirement

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Brumbies backrower Ita Vaea has announced his immediate retirement, due to ongoing heart issues.

Vaea made a remarkable comeback to Rugby after the discovery of two blood clots in his heart forced him out of the game for two seasons.

He returned in 2015 completed an incredible recovery, with Vaea going on to play for much of the 2015 season, and his form over the past season impressed so much he was included in the recent Wallabies camp.

The number 8 left the Brumbies’ loss to  the Chiefs early a fortnight ago and has opted to retire immediately on the advice of doctors, telling teammates of his decision on Monday morning.

“It will be hard watching the boys run out, but I know that this is the best decision for myself and my family.

The 27-year-old said it was a difficult decision but one he had made with his family at the front of mind.

“I am extremely disappointed to be retiring today, under these circumstances,” Vaea said in a statement.

“It has truly been an honour to represent the Brumbies over the past five years.

“While my playing career has now ended, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have met and shared experiences with special players and coaches who I can call lifelong friends.

“It will be hard watching the boys run out, but I know that this is the best decision for myself and my family.

Vaea a clear standout in his time with NRC Club, the UC Vikings. Photo: Getty ImagesVaea said he was grateful for the extra matches he had played against the odds, after his initial diagnosis.

“Coming back from this last time was something I never thought I could achieve. I am so blessed that I was given a second opportunity. Now I have to concentrate on the next chapter in my life,” he said.

Vaea will retire with 48 Super Rugby caps to his name and  said he was unsure what the next step held for him.

“While I am not sure what is in store for the future, I know that the lessons I have learnt in rugby will serve me well.

“It is an incredible game, has given me so much more than I could have ever dreamed and I will miss it immensely.

“Thank you to everyone who has made it such a special journey.”

Ita Vaea played 48 Super Rugby matches for the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham paid tribute to Vaea and his involvement in the club.

“He is one of the most respected players from both his teammates and staff,” he said.

“His determination to return to Rugby after the initial diagnosis shows his true character.

“He took part in last week’s Wallabies camp in Sydney, which shows you that he is currently regarded as one of the nation’s top players."

Larkham said the club completely supported Vaea’s move, a decision that put sport squarely in perspective.

“We will definitely miss Ita’s contribution as a Brumbies player, but understand that there are much more important things in life than Rugby.

“Ita has been a huge part of the Brumbies family over the past five years and it has been a pleasure to work with such an outstanding player.

“He has overcome the odds once before and we know he has made the right decision for himself and for the people closest to him.”

The Brumbies will honour Vaea in an upcoming home match.