James Ryan calls it quits

ALL Black James Ryan had told friends he wanted out of rugby at last year's World Cup.

The lock labelled by Laurie Mains in 2005 as "potentially one of the great All Black locks" announced he had terminated his Otago contract yesterday.

Ryan who hasn't played since picking up a knee injury in April also confirmed he is taking an indefinite break from rugby.

And while Ryan publicly blames three limb operations in 12 months for his decision, Sunday News has been told he had become disillusioned with the game.

One of his confidantes told Sunday News last night that Ryan had told him at last year's World Cup where the lock was working for TV3 he wanted no part of the All Blacks any more.

"He told me he has had enough of living in the goldfish bowl that All Blacks have to live in when they are in New Zealand," he said.

"He said he has no interest in rejoining the All Blacks and spending the best years of his life in that environment."

The nine-test All Blacks' announcement in the Otago Daily Times followed Sunday News inquiries on Friday. Last night Ryan did not return Sunday News' calls.

If Ryan has played his last game of rugby it will be a massive blow to All Blacks coach Graham Henry.

The All Blacks used seven locks last year.

But only Crusader Ali Williams is likely to wear the black jersey for any length of time again.

That's because the other six are no longer All Blacks prospects Keith Robinson has retired, Chris Jack and Greg Rawlinson are playing in England, Ross Filipo has been injured and Reuben Thorne will move to Japan after the Super 14 and is expected to be followed by Troy Flavell later in year.

While the country's locking stocks aren't bare the reality is of Williams' potential All Blacks locking partners which include 2003 All Black Brad Thorn and the uncapped Kevin O'Neill and Tom Donnelly only the Hurricanes' Jason Eaton has the sort of ability and long-term class that 25-year-old Ryan has.

NZRU boss Steve Tew is hopeful Ryan will return to rugby.

"We made a decision when James was coming through his injury and he wasn't sure what he was going to do, to offer him the opportunity remain on what we call a retainer contract, so he's on a reduced amount of remuneration," Tew said.

"As I understand it he's not yet made a final decision. He's coming close to that and we're looking forward to sitting down and talking to James in due course.

"Our very strong desire was to keep him connected to New Zealand rugby because he's a player of considerable talent in a position where we're a little thin on the ground."

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Sunday News