Carstens forced to retire
Experienced Stormers and Western Province prop Deon Carstens has been forced to retire because of an ongoing back injury.
Carstens, 33, has not played this year after undergoing a neck operation during the off-season. However, he then suffered a problem in his back and has been forced to hang up his well-travelled boots.
Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee heaped praise on Carstens, who has played a huge role in mentoring youngsters Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe - the starting front-row in the 2012 Currie Cup final.
"Deon was a popular member of every team he played in and he will be missed as a player," said Coetzee.
"As a 'senior pro' he added so much value - both on and off the field - and it's no surprise that players like Kitshoff, Ntubeni and Malherbe have come on in leaps and bounds since Deon joined the WP and Stormers set-up."
Carstens, who originally hails from Western Province - having been schooled at Boland Landbou and playing his junior rugby for WP, made his senior provincial debut for the Sharks back in 2001, before moving on to English club Saracens in 2010.
He returned to South Africa, and the Cape, in 2011 and played for the Stormers and Western Province last season - playing a big role in WP's Vodacom Cup and Currie Cup triumphs.
"After 170 games for the Sharks and 30-odd games for Saracens it was such an honour to end my career here at Western Province," said Carstens.
"I'd like to thank everyone for their support over my career. I was very fortunate to play over 200 first-class matches - including nine Tests for my country - and I count my blessings every day."
As it turns out, Carstens's last game of rugby was the memorable 2012 Currie Cup final and the irony - and magnitude - thereof is not lost on the popular front row forward.
"It's quite a twist - to have ended my playing career for Western Province... at Kings Park... and as a Currie Cup winner," he said.
"It's so weird - thinking that my rugby career is over - but I had a great innings and, like I said, what a twist that it ended in Durban on such a high."
Looking ahead, Carstens would love to stay involved with the game, whilst he also has an eye on a business venture.
"I've already helped out and will continue to help the WP Vodacom Cup side with their scrumming and certain other aspects of their forward play... Dobbo (John Dobson) and his coaches will find it hard to get rid of me now," joked Carstens.
"I'd love to stay involved in the game somehow," added Carstens, who will also be getting involved in a company specialising in short-term insurance.
"I guess I also have to try and find a real job too," he laughed.