Connacht have been hit by the immediate retirement of prop Brett Wilkinson due to a serious neck injury, the second retirement at the province within a week.

The 30-year-old South African, who has been with Connacht since 2006 and has played 183 times for the province, said he was "devastated" at the news.

"It has, of course, come as a big shock for me that I have to retire so suddenly. I'm devastated that I won't play again but the nature of my injury was very serious and I have to appreciate that I have my health," said Wilkinson.

Wilkinson suffered the injury during a Heineken Cup game at Saracens in January.

Following two medical consultations, he has been directed to cease contact sport with immediate effect. He will wear a neck brace continuously for three months to stabilise the damage and to rule out surgery.

"It's strange to find myself in this situation but I've had time to get over the initial shock and now I am just really grateful for all the opportunities I've had through rugby," he added.

Dan McFarland, Connacht assistant and forwards coach added: "Brett has been a tremendous asset to Connacht Rugby over the last eight years. It is extremely unfortunate for him and the province that an injury should curtail his career."

Last week, Connacht centre Kyle Tonetti also announced his retirement from the game because of injury.