Welsh 'warrior' Hibbard to leave Gloucester

London (AFP) –


Veteran Welsh hooker Richard Hibbard will return to Wales at the end of the present season from Premiership outfit Gloucester, the club announced on Monday.

The 34-year-old -- capped 38 times and a member of the British and Irish Lions Test side that beat Australia 2-1 in 2013 -- is to take up a playing opportunity with an unnamed Welsh side.

Hibbard, described by Gloucester's director of rugby David Humphreys as an "absolute warrior", had another year on his contract to run but wanted to bring down the curtain on his stellar career back in his homeland.

"It's been an incredibly difficult decision," he told the club website.

"The reason it's been so tough is that I've become so attached to Gloucester during my time here.

"I've probably played some of my very best rugby in Cherry and White and I've enjoyed it so much.

"Finishing my career in Wales is important to me, though, and this opportunity has probably come a little sooner than I expected.

"But to have the chance to finish on a high, back home in Wales in front of family and friends is an exciting one," added Hibbard, who has played 91 times for Gloucester since he arrived from Ospreys in 2014.

Humphreys said Hibbard had made a telling contribution to the club in his three years there including when they lifted the European Challenge Cup in 2015.

"We knew what we were getting when Hibbs joined the club ?- an absolute warrior -? and he's more than lived up to that," said Humphreys.

"The part he's played for Gloucester Rugby over the past few seasons cannot be over-estimated."