The Glasgow Warriors lock, who has been captained the club for the past nine seasons, had been widely expected to call time on his playing career, and will now take up an ambassador role with the Scottish Rugby Union.
I’ve always had a rule of playing every game like it’s my last as you never know when that will be, but now I can see it coming pretty quickly, after 17 years playing senior rugby.
Al Kellock on the end of his playing career
The 33-year-old captained the club for the 150th time last week in the Warriors’ 34-34 draw with Leinster in Dublin and has been an influential figure at the club and will become the second Warriors player to call time on his career this season, following in the footsteps of hooker Dougie Hall.
Kellock has been a mentor to several young players at the club, including protégé Jonny Gray, with the 20-year-old’s rapid rise in the Warriors side leading to him becoming an established Scotland international in the last 18 months.
And former Scotland international Kellock, who captained the Warriors in their Guinness PRO12 final defeat to Leinster last May, admits there will be a lot of things he will miss from his playing days.
“I feel the time is right for me to retire, and it’s an emotional and reflective time for me,” Kellock said.
“I’ve always had a rule of playing every game like it’s my last as you never know when that will be, but now I can see it coming pretty quickly, after 17 years playing senior rugby.
“I’m excited about the next chapter, but there are so many things that I’ll miss massively, especially the times in the changing room before and after a game.
“The supporters have been great with me, and I hugely appreciate the backing they’ve given me throughout my career.
“When I first joined the club we were bringing in 1,500 people at Hughenden, but now we’re regularly exceeding 6,000 at Scotstoun, which makes me incredibly proud and happy to be part of the journey.
“To have captained the side for nine years is such an honour, and I have so many fantastic memories, such as beating Toulouse away from home in Europe, and winning against Munster in the PRO12 semi-final last season when my daughter was mascot.”
Kellock began his career at Allan Glen’s before joining Stirling Country and progressing to Edinburgh in 2002, where he made 56 appearances before moving back west to join Glasgow in 2006, taking over the captaincy soon after his arrival, and the giant lock has made 154 appearances for the Scotstoun club.
At Glasgow, I’ll be looking to continue a number of things I’ve done as captain, such as developing the culture of the club and mentoring players.
Al Kellock on his continued involvement with the Warriors
His Scotland debut came in a non-cap match against Queensland Reds in 2004 and he won the first of 56 Test caps against Australia at BT Murrayfield later in the same year.
Despite not playing for Scotland since 2012, Kellock achieved a personal dream when he was made captain of the Barbarians against Australia at Twickenham last year, reprising the role four days later for a match against Leicester Tigers at Welford Road.
And he admitted he is excited about being able to continue to be involved behind the scenes with the Warriors.
“My new role allows me to help Scottish Rugby grow through the ambassador role, while continuing my involvement at Glasgow Warriors,” Kellock added.
“At Glasgow, I’ll be looking to continue a number of things I’ve done as captain, such as developing the culture of the club and mentoring players.
“I’m excited to continue my involvement at an organisation I’m very passionate about.”
Forever epitomising the Warriors spirit, Kellock could end his career in style if he can lead the Warriors to the PRO12 title in Belfast on 30 May.
In my three years at the club he has been an excellent person to work with – the ideal captain. He has left a fantastic legacy for the future of the club to continue to grow.
Warriors boss Gregor Townsend on captain Al Kellock
He has skippered the Warriors to the play-offs four times since their introduction in 2009/10 and the current league leaders are on course to land a second successive home semi-final with four rounds of the regular season remaining.
While Kellock was unable to lead his team-mates to glory against rivals Leinster last May, there is now an extra motivation for the Warriors to reach their second final.
And that is not lost on Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend, who paid tribute to Kellock for his .
“In my three years at the club he has been an excellent person to work with – the ideal captain,” Townsend said.
“He has left a fantastic legacy for the future of the club to continue to grow.
“I know how much it would mean for his last season to be even better than last year, and he’s training really hard to be at his best for our remaining games.
“Al has been instrumental in Glasgow’s rise over the last five or six years, and he’s been an excellent role model for our values, with the work he does to improve himself, his teammates and the club.
“He is very passionate about rugby in Glasgow, and it’s great that he’s moving into an important role with Scottish Rugby and Glasgow Warriors when he retires.
“Al has put his body on the line a lot during his nine years with the club, and he’s still competing very hard with the other second-rows to be selected ahead of them.
“He shows excellent leadership whether he plays or not, and his first thought is how he can help the team win.”
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