England international Mouritz Botha has announced his decision to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
The 35-year-old, who signed a three-year contract with Newcastle Falcons, failed to recover from a head injury that he sustained in the previous season.
Botha's professional rugby debut came with the RFU Championship side Bedford Blues in 2006 and three years later, he made a switch to Saracens and helped them to the Aviva Premiership title in 2011. Overall, he made 111 appearances for the Allianz Park outfit.
It was during this phase, Botha was selected for the England Saxons squad and later for the England full senior squad and featured in 10 games between August 2011 and November 2012 playing in the Six Nations Championship and in all three tests during the tour of South Africa.
The 6 ft 5 in lock, who also had a short stint with Super Rugby side Sharks before moving to Falcons admitted that the decision was a tough yet right one.
"Although many players have mixed emotions when they call time on their playing days, I only have one overriding feeling – that I was truly blessed to have had enjoyed my time as a rugby player as much as I have done.
"I am extremely proud to have been able to represent England, an honour that I will always cherish, and to have won the Premiership with Saracens. Most importantly I have made some fantastic memories and friends for life at all the clubs I have played for along the way and I’ll always be indebted to the many people who helped me enjoy such a fantastic journey.
"I was very lucky to learn from some amazing coaches who turned me from a semi-professional into an England international. It is for this reason I'm am now pursuing a career in coaching. I want to give players the same experience that I had."
Newcastle Falcons rugby director Dean Richards paid tribute to Botha and wished him good luck going forward.
"It is sad when any player is forced to retire in this manner, but Mo can look back on a great career which has seen him winning the Premiership title and playing international rugby for England.
"We wish him all the best for the next chapter of his life and thank him for all of his efforts during his time with us in Newcastle."