Taniela Tuikaki’s rugby league career is officially over.

The Wests Tigers winger has retired from the NRL after failing to recover from a serious ankle injury.

He had been rumoured to be struggling to overcome the injury late last year.

Tuiaki has undergone three operations in a desperate attempt to return to the field but the sickening injury he suffered against Parramatta in round 24 of the 2009 season has proven to be career-ending.

The New Zealand international was at the peak of his powers at the time – he scored 21 tries in 22 games, was named the Dally M winger of the year and lived up to his nickname of ”The Tank” by being voted by his peers as the most difficult man to tackle in the NRL.

After missing the 2010 season, Tuiaki had hoped to make his comeback this year. However, he realised last week that the end had come.

The Tigers have worked closely with Tuiaki to prepare him for life after football. The club has set up work with a long-standing sponsor, courier and express freight firm Allied Express. He will remain involved with the club off the field.

Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald