The premature end to the rugby season in France last week has seen another veteran player announce their retirement as Bayonne prop Census Johnston has called an end to his career. The announcement was made on social media on Wednesday on his 38th birthday and he has since received many glowing responses from former team-mates. 

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Having played for Biarritz, Saracens, Toulouse, Racing 92 and Bayonne in a 14-year career in the northern hemisphere, the tighthead has amassed many colleagues over the years. 

It is perhaps his compatriots who have recognised his contribution to his country the most, though. Johnston won 57 caps for Samoa and three more for the Pacific Islands in a career that spanned twelve years between 2005 and 2017 and saw him play in three World Cups.

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In light of his contribution to the international game, Seilala Mapasua said: “What (he has) done for Samoa is equivalent to playing 150 tests for a tier-one nation.” Likewise, Junior Poluleuligaga described him as “one of the greats” for Samoa. 

Taking into consideration the fact that Brian Lima holds Samoa’s caps record with 65, it puts Johnston’s longevity and service into context. 

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During his time in France and England, Johnston won a Heineken Cup and multiple Top 14 titles with Toulouse, having spent eight years at the Stade Ernest-Wallon between 2009 and 2017. He had already won the French league with Biarritz during a brief stint in 2006 and featured in a European final with them.

He joined Bayonne this season following two years in Paris with Racing 92, but his spell in the south-west has proven to be his last. He leaves having made an impression on many of the players he has played with during his career. 

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The unfortunate thing for Johnston – and many other players – is that he has been deprived of the chance of a farewell match due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but he has plenty of memories across his career to fall back on. 

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