FORMER Worcester Warriors star Sam Tuitupou will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season with Championship club Coventry.

The powerhouse centre, who recently turned 37, spent three seasons at Sixways where he scored five tries in 54 games before joining Munster in 2010.

After returning to the Premiership 12 months later Tuitupou was appointed captain of Sale and went on to represent the Sharks on 110 occasions over the next six years.

The New Zealander who won nine caps for his country between 2004 and 2006 then made the move to Coventry where he has made 27 appearances.

“The goal for me had always been to continue to around 40 so I could play with my boys but the time has come,” Tuitupou said.

“This also means I can go out on my own terms while the body still has the capability to play.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot over the years so now it’s time to give back to my seven kids and my wife.”

Prior to his move to England Tuitupou was part of the Auckland squad which lifted two Air New Zealand Cups in addition to representing the Chiefs and being a 2003 Super Rugby winner with the Auckland Blues.

“I enjoyed playing in New Zealand where I was brought up,” Tuitupou continued.

“But I’ve played most of my career in England where I made lots of memories and friends that I will keep for life so that is home now.

“I always thought I would play for Tonga, as that is my heritage, but representing the All Blacks was massive for me and my family and is something I will always treasure.

“I was very lucky to play for some great clubs in Europe in Worcester, Munster and Sale then being part of a championship win at Coventry – the first since my Auckland days – was very special.

“I’m going to be starting up my own player agency which will keep me in the rugby environment – although it will take some time to get used to not being around the boys."