Culum Retallick will no longer be smashing into rucks, leaping in lineouts or pushing in scrums.

The 17th player to reach 100 games for Bay of Plenty has been forced to hang up his boots after two major concussions last season left their mark.

He was knocked out in both games the Steamers played at Tauranga Domain and admits he has been knocked out six times in his career.

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"I had a few other knocks at training as well but didn't think too much about it until the last couple here really knocked me.

"I have suffered really bad headaches and anxiety from it and haven't been able to come right which has been disappointing," Retallick said.

"I have three young kids aged 3, 6 and 13 so that is a lot to risk to chase a ball around. In the past it was pretty much 'you'll be right, get back into it' but now there is more education around the damage you can do.

"One of the difficulties I have found is I have been given a lot of different information from a lot of different people. That has been frustrating. I would love to have finished off another couple of years in France or somewhere but it hasn't worked out like that."

It is the end of an era for the highly respected player known as Red who made his debut for the Bay of Plenty Steamers against Hawke's Bay in Napier back in 2007. While countless players have come and gone Retallick has stayed loyal to the province that gave him a break 10 years ago.

Retallick, 32, grew up in Canterbury and is a first cousin of All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick. He is proud to be in the same category of Bay of Plenty centenarians such as Clayton McMillan, Hika Reid and Graeme Moore.

"I think I have been bloody lucky to get there. I had a pretty good run with injuries and just lucky enough to get an opportunity all those years ago to come up here from Christchurch.

"I have always remembered that opportunity they gave me and I have wanted to be loyal to the Bay. To see your name alongside the players who have played 100 games who are Bay legends is pretty humbling."

Retallick played his 100th match for Bay of Plenty against North Harbour at Albany in 2016. It was an especially memorable occasion for him and his close-knit family.

"I was pretty rapt to get there. My family came up from all over New Zealand to watch it and I was so proud to get to 100 games and get my jersey framed up. Obviously you spend a lot of time and a few trainings and effort to get to 100 games. I have a lot of passion for the region."

Culum Retallick in typical form leading from the front for the Steamers. PHOTO/FILE
Culum Retallick in typical form leading from the front for the Steamers. PHOTO/FILE

Retallick believes Bay of Plenty rugby is in a really strong position for the future.

"One of the key things is we have that awesome facility [University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance] at the Mount which is something to really be proud of for the whole Bay sporting community.

"It really helps trying to get rugby talent to come here from bigger unions. When they go there and see it, it is an eye-opener. They have world class facilities. All they have to do is turn up with a good attitude, everything else is taken care of for them."

Retallick also played 66 Super Rugby games spread over seven seasons at the Chiefs, Highlanders, Blues and Rebels.

Injuries played a part in him lacking the consistency of selection he had with Bay of Plenty but he is particularly proud of the 2013 season with the Blues under the coaching of John Kirwan.

"That was when I played some of my best footy under JK with Mick Byrne and Graham Henry on the coaching team. I thoroughly enjoyed that year.

"I loved playing the next level up. The players have a lot more development put into them from the coaching, the game is more physical and faster. I have loved all the teams I have been with."

While his playing days are over, his coaching career has just begun.

Playing for different franchises under various coaches has helped Retallick as he makes his first steps into coaching as assistant coach for Tauranga Sports premier team this season.

"I have played under different coaches and seen lots of different systems that you can take lots of ideas out of. I wasn't sure if I was going to get into it this year but I am really enjoying it. It has been a real eye-opener, especially with training only two times a week and trying to get all the content you want in.

"Dealing with lots of different personalities and how you get your point across has been really interesting."

Bay of Plenty Rugby chief executive Mike Rogers says Retallick has made a huge impact in rugby over a long period of time for Bay of Plenty.

"I guess the pleasing thing is that he hasn't stopped. For him to go straight into coaching and contribute at the club level is testament to his character and ultimately we are incredibly grateful that he is prepared to continue to support our game.

"His contribution on the field was fantastic but more importantly what he did off the field helping us [BOPR] develop our culture. He played a big part in where we have got to today."

What to do after rugby is always difficult for long-term players like Retallick. Unlike the superstars of the game there is no unlimited nest egg of cash to rely on.

This year Retallick became the Bay of Plenty/Waikato general manager for NZ Drug Decontamination & Remediation Specialist, who focus on remediating meth-contaminated houses.

"It was an industry I knew nothing about but I got an opportunity up here. It is an interesting industry, really exciting and a different walk of life than I was used to," he said.

"You deal with a lot of families and what they have gone through. You feel really connected to them and want to help them get out of the situation."

Information: www.nzdeconspecialist.co.nz, 0800 322 6669

Culum Retallick
Bay of Plenty 2007-2017, 110 games
Chiefs 2010-2011, 20 games
Highlanders 2012, 10 games
Blues 2013-2015, 17 games
Rebels 2016-2017, 19 games