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Former Wales international Matthew J Watkins dies aged 41 after long illness

Matthew J Watkins earned 18 caps for Wales. Credit: PA

Former Wales centre Matthew J Watkins has died at the age of 41 after a long illness.

Watkins, who won 18 caps for Wales between 2003 and 2006, retired in 2011 and was diagnosed with a rare form of pelvic cancer in 2013.

One of his former clubs, Dragons, paid tribute to Watkins in a statement on their website which read: "Everyone at Dragons Rugby is deeply saddened at the passing of our former player Matthew J Watkins.

"Matthew will be missed by so many and our sincere condolences go out to Matthew's wife Stacey, his sons Sior and Tal, family and friends."

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Former dual-code Wales international Jonathan Davies paid tribute to Watkins on social media.

Davies wrote on Twitter: "RIP Matthew. What a lovely guy who took on cancer with courage and always had a smile on his face. Lived life to the full and was always smiling. Thoughts and prayers are with his family and close friends."

Wales flanker Dan Lydiate wrote on Twitter: "Gutted to hear the passing of Mj this morning thoughts are with his family class player and one of rugby's great characters #gonetosoon #ripmate."