WP Nel will retire from rugby at the end of the season after 12 years with Edinbrgh, and an international career that spanned 61 caps over nine years.

Edinburgh coach Sean Everitt said earlier the 37-year-old had informed Edinburgh of his intention to hang up his boots. 

Nel has been an incredible servant to Edinburgh and Scotland since moving to the capital in 2012 and made his 200th appearance for the club in last weekend’s defeat to Stormers.

It was a full circle moment for the South African-born tighthead, who started his career in Cape Town with Western Province before moving to Scotland. 

He qualified for Scotland on residency grounds in 2015 and made his international debut in a Rugby World Cup warm-up fixture against Italy. Nel represented his adopted homeland at three World Cups (2015, 2019 and 2023). 

Everitt also confirmed Nel had retired from international rugby during the Six Nations.

Scotland Rugby News: WP Ne ls hanging up his bootsWP Ne ls hanging up his boots (Image: SNS)

Edinburgh's search for a replacement is already under way. The club have held talks with Northampton Saints' England international Paul Hill. 

The 29-year-old has six caps for England and has played more than 130 times for Saints since joining them in 2015. 

READ MORE: WP Nel considering his future ahead of 200th Edinburgh appearance

When asked about Hill, Everitt said: “We’ve been looking at options at tighthead because of the retirement of WP Nel. We’ve also looked at replacements for Bill Mata who is going to be leaving us.

“We’ve had talks with quite a few players and we’re in negotiations with them but there’s nothing finite at this stage.”

Nel hadn’t announced his retirement himself yet but Everitt confirmed: “Yes, you would have seen earlier in the Six Nations that he had retired from international rugby.

“He’s had a good innings and a long innings. We’d have loved for him to stay on for another year and he’s been toying with this decision for some time.

"He enjoys the club, he enjoys Edinburgh as a city but at the end of the day, at some stage someone will wake up in the morning and say ‘I think I’ve had enough’.

“So it looks like it could be his swansong."

That hasn’t been cast in stone but we’ve got to be proactive in how we look for our players and if there are tightheads available we’ll certainly have a chat with them because we want to have the strongest available squad next year.”

There’s still plenty to play for this season with Edinburgh with Everitt’s side chasing a playoff spot in the URC and they’re in the last 16 of the Challenge Cup.

Nel will play a big part in that and could make his 201st appearance for Edinburgh against Sharks this weekend. Everitt confirmed Nel was not retiring with immediate effect.

Nel, who turns 38 next month, might be excused for enjoying a lighter workload during training.

For the second week running, Everitt was full of praise for how the veteran prop's willingness to get stuck in every day. 

Scotland Rugby News: Edinburgh prop WP Nel

He added: “He’s not retiring with immediate effect. I said earlier he enjoys what he’s doing and enjoying the game of rugby but he knows time is drawing near.

“He’s still getting around the field and playing as well as he has when he was 25. I’m sure he doesn’t feel that way on a Sunday but there’s never a Monday he shirks training. He trains every Monday, every Tuesday and every Thursday.

“Normally guys at his age get a reprieve from training on Mondays and Tuesdays because of their performance on Saturday and as long as he’s fit he wants to train but he has been chatting about it.”

Edinburgh squad update ahead of Sharks clash

While Nel is available this weekend, Edinburgh will be without Grant Gilchrist and Ali Price available. 

Gilchrist misses out for personal reasons while Price remained in Scotland and his partner Annie gave birth to a baby girl on Tuesday morning. 

Price’s future remains up in the air after moving from Glasgow to Edinburgh on loan earlier this season with reports in France suggesting Perpignan could make a move to sign him in the summer. 

Everitt is keen to keep hold of him though and when asked if his young family could make him lean towards staying in Scotland, he joked: “I’ll certainly use it as motivation to keep him. 

"We see Ali as a vital cog in our team going forward and we’d love to keep him in Edinburgh. We are still in talks with Ali."

Mark Bennett is also out of this one with a concussion while Glen Young will be missing for up to six weeks after having surgery on his ankle. 

Edinburgh currently sit sixth in the URC but the likes of Connacht and Benetton are only one point behind them and sit outside the playoff spots, so Everitt knows it’s important to leave South Africa with something from this weekend’s game against Sharks. 

READ MORE: Five things we learned as Edinburgh hammered by Stormers

He added: “They’ll be very disappointed with the season, particularly with the depth they’ve created in the squad at the moment.

"I can’t put a finger on what has transpired at the Sharks over the last 12 months if I can put it that way but they put it together on Saturday. 

“It’s very important. If you look at the log, the other results went our way. Not that we’re hoping other people lose, but it makes the log a little bit tighter.  

“Had the other results gone against us we would have been in a bit of trouble but we’re still in the race. 

“Any points at this stage will work for us and four points or five points would be the perfect scenario.”