Ulster's record appearance-holder Andrew Trimble has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old has made a 229 appearances for the province and earned 70 Ireland caps over a 13-year career.

He said: "I know that I've been incredibly fortunate to have realised not one of my dreams, but two of them; to play for Ulster and to play for Ireland.

"These have been some of the most fulfilling days of my life and I feel nothing but gratitude for them.

"But there's no way of stopping time - and I see that each day in the lives of my two young children, who are now close to beating me over five metres.

"So I wanted to let you know that this will be my last season playing professional rugby.

"I want to thank the club for allowing me the time and space to think things through before making what is probably the toughest decision that any professional sportsman will make.

"Most of all, I want to thank you - the loyal and dedicated supporters of this special club.

"I know that nothing will come close to the experience of taking the field and hearing you raise your voices in support of the team.

"You stood up for me; I only hope that I stood up for you."