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Tongan World Cup star Taione forced to retire

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Article Published: Friday 23 December 2011

A serious knee injury has forced 2007 Tonga Rugby World Cup star Epi Taione to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.

Taione made headlines ahead of the 2007 Rugby World Cup when he changed his name to Paddy Power in recognition of Tonga's sponsor at the time.

Epi joined Newcastle Falcons back in 1998 and went on to play for Sale Sharks, Sanyo Wild Knights in Japan, Natal Sharks, Harlequins and Racing Metro before joining London Welsh in 2010.

When he arrived at Old Deer Park he still harboured hopes of making the Tongan squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup but a series of injuries made that impossible and now his consultant has advised him to call 'time' on a long and colourful career.

He played in the 1999 and 2007 World Cups winning 18 caps for Tonga and six for the Pacific Islanders.

His combative style resulted in numerous brushes with the rugby authorities but he was enormously popular with the crowd and his fellow players wherever he went.

Despite limited game time because of his injuries he soon established himself as a firm favourite at Old Deer Park.

"Epi made an immediate impression and we shall miss him, it is just sad that injury finally made it impossible for him to continue," said John Taylor, London Welsh Managing Director.

"He is one of the great characters of the modern game and I'm sure we have not heard the last of him in rugby."

"I'm very sad to be leaving behind a career I love and is all I have known for the past 15 seasons or so," said Epi.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed every moment and will look back fondly at the memories and, more importantly, the friends I have made on the journey.

"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time at Old Deer Park and would like to wish the players and management at London Welsh all the very best for the future.

"Thanks to rugby - the beautiful game we all love."

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