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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Withers retirement stuns Warriors
Michael Withers
Withers suffered the injury playing against Leeds in April
Wigan full-back Michael Withers has been forced to retire with immediate effect after failing to recover from a knee problem.

The 31-year-old, who joined from Bradford last December, scored 108 tries in 170 games for the Bulls but only played a handful of Wigan games.

"It's heart-breaking to have to end in this way," said Withers.

"I'd like to thank Wigan, especially the medics who worked so hard. I'm just sorry their work has been unrewarded."

Coach Brian Noble, who worked with Withers at Bradford, described the news as "a crushing blow for Michael and ourselves".

Noble added: "He underwent knee surgery after the Leeds game back in April. It was hoped that the operation would be successful and he would recover in time to play for us towards the end of the season.

"In attempting a training session yesterday he broke down and our medical team advised him that he would now need major surgery which effectively means he cannot play again."

606: DEBATE
HP

The news is a big headache for Noble, with incumbent full-back Chris Ashton switching codes with Northampton at the end of the season.

The Warriors have already been linked with former player Shaun Briscoe, currently at Hull but out of contract later this year.

Withers now faces an operation which will involve fracturing his knee, and which will take a year to recover from.

"I think Kris Radlinski as well as Andy Farrell went through the same problem," he said.

"I will be visiting the same surgeon and hope to have the operation this week."

Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay said Withers had worked hard, but it was just not realistic for him to try and play on.

"We thank Michael for the effort he has made to get back into the game but his own health must come first," he said.



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