Worsley forced to call time on career
November 14, 2011
Worsley won 79 caps in a 12-year international career © Getty Images
Former England international Joe Worsley has been forced to retire from the game due to a neck injury.
The 34-year-old Rugby World Cup winner, who won the last of his 79 Test caps against Wales in this year's Six Nations, has failed to recover from the injury which has prevented him from even training in recent months, and he has made the tough decision to hang up his boots.
"Last season I suffered an injury to my neck that has effectively ended my career", said Worsley, who was also capped by the British & Irish Lions in 2009. "Since March I have been following medical and rehab advice but it didn't help, and restarting contact work during the England World Cup camp made it obvious that I could not continue."
Worsley, who joined the Wasps academy in 1993 as a 16-year-old, went on to make over 300 appearances for the club in a career spanning almost two decades. Along the way he has won almost every accolade possible including the Heineken Cup twice and the Premiership four times as well as the Powergen Cup on three occasions. He has also represented the Barbarians and was awarded an MBE in the wake of England's memorable triumph in 2003.
"My life as a rugby player started at Welwyn under 9s and finished in an England training session - I want to say thanks to everyone who helped me on that path. I'm proud of what I achieved and how I played the game."
London Wasps owner Steve Hayes was quick to pay tribute to Worsley, commenting, "Joe is a real legend at this Club and we are all very sad to see his playing days come to an end. He has been a fantastic servant to Wasps and played a huge role in much of the Club's success. He also was a superb representative on the international stage, becoming a key figure for England and inspiring many budding young players with his tenacious back-row play. He will leave big boots to fill and we wish him all the very best as he moves on with the next stage of his life. I hope that we will still see him regularly around Adams Park and he knows he is welcome back here anytime."
His sentiments were echoed by Damian Hopley, a former team-mate and now chief executive of The Rugby Players Association. "It is such sad news when any player has to retire prematurely and I am very sorry to learn that Joe's injury has meant his playing days have ended," he said. "As a former team mate, we always sensed that Joe had all the necessary attributes and humility to become an outstanding international player and he played a leading role in both Wasps and England successes over the years. Joe was a fantastic professional and leaves behind tremendous memories of an exceptional career which saw him lift every major trophy in English, European and International rugby. On behalf of all The RPA members, I would like to wish Joe and his family every success for his life after rugby and we will be there to support Joe throughout that transition."
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