Rugby: Injury forces former All Black Liam Squire into early retirement

Former All Black forward Liam Squire has been forced to permanently hang up his boots.

The 23-test All Black has announced his immediate retirement from all rugby, due to a recurring knee injury, ending his professional career at just 30 years of age.

Last year, Squire had knee and hip surgeries, before signing a two-year deal with the Highlanders, returning early from his stint in Japan with NTT Red Hurricanes.

He only managed a couple of brief appearances with the southerners in the opening two rounds of this year's Super Rugby Aotearoa, before re-injuring his troublesome knee and being sidelined indefinitely.

"After 6-7 months full rest to see if it will heal, and speaking to my surgeon and medical team, I have been advised, for my best long term interest, to retire from all rugby immediately," Squire has posted on social media.

"As disappointing and frustrating as this is, my long term wellbeing has to come first. I am excited for the next chapter in my life and stepping away from rugby."

The Palmerston North product began his Super Rugby with the Chiefs in 2014, before moving to the Highlanders in 2016.

That same year, Squire was called up for his All Blacks debut, establishing a reputation as a hard-hitting, hard-running onfield combatant.

In 2019, he made himself unavailable for the Rugby Championship for personal reasons, before withdrawing from consideration for the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, saying he wasn't ready "physically or mentally for the pressures of test match rugby".

Squire says wearing the All Blacks jersey is something he'll "forever cherish".

"Thank you to my family and friends for your unconditional support through the good and bad.

"I couldn’t have achieved what I have without you all. Also the coaches, management staff and fans I have met through this journey, thank you."

He also paid tribute to Tasman Mako - his beloved province, where he made 47 appearances since 2011 - and the Highlanders.

"These are two teams I hold close to my heart and I’ve always loved going to battle with them."