James Mortimer 11.Jan.2012Photosport
Last October Willis injured his hand when the Welsh club was thumped 50-24 by Italian side Treviso during the RaboDirect Pro12, and recent medical advice revealed that the five-test All Black would cause lifelong damage to his hand if he kept playing.
He announced his retirement via the club’s official website, with Willis captaining the Dragons for three seasons.
'Regrettably I have been advised that a successful return to the pitch is unlikely and ultimately could lead to me having significant problems with my hand in the future,' he said.
'I have had a great time whilst with the Dragons and will always cherish memories of typical Newport Friday nights, fantastic Rodney Parade crowds and playing alongside a great bunch of guys.'
Willis played for Otago, the Highlanders, Waikato and the Chiefs between 1999 and 2008, and made his test debut in 2001.
He captained the All Blacks in two midweek matches on their European tour at the end of 2001 against Ireland A and Scotland A.
Dragons head coach Darren Edwards praised his long serving rake.
'He has demonstrated an extraordinary work ethic and strong leadership at Rodney Parade and I have to say he is probably the most stand-up player I have ever worked with,” he said.