Matthew Rees: Ex-Wales captain, hooker and Lion retires

Matthew Rees packs down between Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins against South Africa for the 2009 Lions
Matthew Rees (C) made up an all-Wales front-row alongside Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins for the second 2009 Lions Test against the Springboks

Former Wales captain and hooker Matthew Rees will retire at the end of the season aged 38.

Cardiff Blues' ex-British and Irish Lions player won 60 Wales caps from 2005-2014.

The ex-Scarlets, Celtic Warriors, Pontypridd and Treorchy hooker was also first-choice for the 2009 Lions in South Africa.

"Starting out at Pontypridd in 2000, I could never have imagined I would achieve what I have," said Rees.

His career is all the more remarkable after Rees suffered testicular cancer, taking time out for treatment from November, 2013 until March the following year.

Wales' Matthew Rees in action against New Zealand in 2010
Matthew Rees won 60 caps for Wales and also captained the side.

"Being diagnosed with cancer were some of the real dark days of my career," said Rees.

"I did think that my professional playing days were over."

In 2008, Rees was involved in all of Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam games as the Warren Gatland coaching era began with success.

He was Gatland's captain leading into the 2011 World Cup, but a neck injury ruled him out of the tournament, paving the way for Sam Warburton to take over.

Rees graduated to top-flight rugby via Treorchy to Pontypridd, Celtic Warriors and Scarlets before joining Blues for the 2013-14 season.

"It's amazing just to be playing professional rugby at the age of 38, especially in the front-row and to have played almost 400 games takes some doing," said Rees.

"I've been fortunate and I'm proud of everything I've achieved. Playing for Wales is every kid's dream and the Lions is a big one, especially playing in Test matches.

"To have also captained the Scarlets, Wales and Cardiff Blues is a massive honour and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Matthew Rees in action for Cardiff Blues
Matthew Rees joined Cardiff Blues from Scarlets in 2013

"The only real frustration is being named captain for the 2011 World Cup and then being ruled out through injury.

"I would really have liked to have played a part in that, knowing how well we had prepared."

Coaching role

Rees has played just 40 minutes for Cardiff Blues this season, facing Glasgow in January after ten months out following a serious knee injury, but hopes to help his region achieve Heineken Champions Cup qualification for next season.

With Rees' former front-row colleague Gethin Jenkins already in a junior coaching role, head coach John Mulvihill hopes to use Rees' expertise in future.

"He coaches Pontypridd in the Premiership and he's a good coach, so it would be crazy for us not to have him involved in some shape or form going forward," Mulvihill told BBC Sport Wales.

"With our development teams, there's not a lot of really good hookers around who can give across those secrets of the dark arts, so it would be great to have him around the under-sixteens, under-eighteens and transition group."

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