Injury forces Worsley to retire

England back row Joe Worsley has reflected with pride on his decorated career after being forced to retire from the game due to a neck injury.

Worsley, England’s sixth most capped international with 78 appearances, discovered during the summer while training for the World Cup that his playing days were over.

The powerful 34-year-old, who could cover all three back row positions and was feared for his bone-crunching defence, was left with no option but to retire.

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His last game was for his club, Wasps, against Northampton in March.

“Last season I suffered an injury to my neck that has effectively ended my career,” he said. “Since March I have been following medical and rehab advice, but it hasn’t helped. Restarting contact work during the England World Cup camp made it obvious that I could not continue.

“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.”

Worsley, known for his commitment and high work rate, enters retirement with a glowing tribute from England manager and former international team-mate Martin Johnson.

“It’s sad for Joe that he has had to retire because of injury,” Johnson said. “He was a great team-mate and always gave 100 per cent for England and Wasps in winning every trophy available.On behalf of the England squad, we wish him well and hope that he is just as successful after rugby.”

Worsley made one appearance for the British and Irish Lions in the final Test against South Africa in 2009.

He played more than 300 times for Wasps in a career spanning almost two decades, lifting the Heineken Cup twice and clinching the Aviva Premiership title four times.

He first joined Wasps as a 16-year-old in 1993 and spent his entire career at the club.

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“Joe is a real legend at Wasps and we are very sad to see his playing days come to an end,” Wasps owner Steve Hayes said.

“He’s been a fantastic servant to Wasps and played a huge role in much of the club’s success.

“He was also 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.”