DOUBLE Grand Slam-winning Wales lock Ian Evans has retired from professional rugby because of an incapacitating knee injury.
The 32-year-old from Aberdare had been on the radar of Newport Gwent Dragons but has been forced to hang up his boots because of a knee problem that prevents him from training.
Evans made 129 appearances with the Ospreys and, after the collapse of a move to French giants Toulon, spent the last three seasons with Bristol, although he was only able to play 29 times for the West Country side.
The lock won 33 caps, winning Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012 and the Six Nations title in 2013, while he toured Australia with the British and Irish Lions four years ago.
"I'm deeply saddened to end my professional career now, however, the knee injury I suffered whilst playing for Bristol now prevents me from achieving full fitness and will permanently affect my capability to perform," said Evans.
"While I'm sad that my playing career has come to an end, I'm looking forward to the next chapter and exploring new opportunities.
"I've been fortunate enough to have an incredible career and I'm honoured to have had the opportunity to represent my country, winning successive Six Nations titles.
"I'm grateful to the Ospreys and Bristol – two fantastic clubs where I have met great people and hold fond memories."
Injury may have deprived Evans of the ability to play a big role on the pitch at Bristol but head coach Mark Tainton stressed the experienced forward was influential off it.
"Ian helped Bristol to promotion in 2016 and has been an excellent ambassador for the club," he said.
"He's suffered a challenging period here with his knee injuries and, ultimately, Ian hasn't been able to play a regular run of games. We are grateful for his contribution – on and off the field."
Evans scored a long-range try on his Test debut in Argentina in 2006 and won the last of his 33 caps in the loss to South Africa in Durban in the summer of 2014.