Deon Smith has had to hang up his boots after aggravating a shoulder issue.
The winger picked up a knock in the victory over Swansea in September and after careful medical review, he has been given the advice not to return to the field.
It is a bitter blow for the 24-year-old, who fulfilled his dream of representing the club when he signed at the beginning of last summer.
He went on to have a seismic impact scoring 16 tries across 23 appearances as Pooler claimed a historic unbeaten double, and promotion back to the Indigo Premiership.
The bigger the game, the more Smith shone as he bagged three tries against Bargoed, two against Neath and claimed the opening try for Pooler in the WRU Championship Cup final.
That contribution did not go unnoticed as he was named Player of the Season at the club’s annual presentation evening.
Smith, who also played at centre, remained a vital member of the team as the club prepared for their return to the top table and started both of the opening two fixtures but had to come off against Swansea.
The coaching group, led by head coach Leighton Jones, Smith and the medical staff were in constant dialogue behind the scenes as they waited for a verdict and unfortunately, it has led to Smith’s retirement.
“It’s been a long month and it’s been a tough one to take,” expressed Smith.
“It’s an ongoing shoulder injury, which has been aggravated and we’ve got to the point now where there is not a lot we can do, the operation isn’t worth the risks involved.
“There have been a couple of difficult conversations to be had but I’ve got to do what is best for me in terms of life outside of rugby.
“There have been multiple people involved and I can’t ask more of Leighton and the club for the support they have given me, they have been fantastic.
“My wellbeing has been the main focus of it all and that sums up the club.
“There have been lots of conversations, not all of them have been nice, but we’ve got to try and find the positives.
“It is disappointing but ultimately there is always the next step and another challenge.”
While Smith weighs up his options for what the next chapter of his career will look like, he will always look back at the time he spent at Pontypool with immense pride having completed an ambition he held as a child.
The love he has for the club is as strong as ever and he is still keen to be involved in any way he can be.
“It’s an atmosphere that is hard to leave, it’s a very special group of boys producing very good results on the pitch,” he continued.
“The attitude and camaraderie does spread and it does make it hard to leave so hopefully I can stick around and see what I can offer.
“It has always been a massive ambition of mine to play at the Park, being a Pontypool boy. I’ve got family who have been lifelong supporters.
“I’ve been stood on the other side of the barrier and watched players perform in the past and it had always been a massive focus for me.
“Last year was a special year and I’m glad I could be a part of that, putting the club back where it belongs and the boys have proven that this year.
“The support is something we talk about week in week out as players and a club, the support is fantastic and they’ve been fantastic with me throughout my time here.
“The club and the boys still have a job to do so any part I can play in that is a massive positive.”