17th July 2019, 21:14 | great_britain

Gareth Hock retires

Gareth Hock retires

He was a member of the last Great Britain team to win in Australia

Gareth Hock, who was a member of the last Great Britain team to beat Australia, has announced his retirement after an eventful professional career spanning 16 years.

Hock made his debut for Wigan in 2003 and has gone on to play for a host of clubs, most recently rejoining Leigh for a second stint.

He told the Centurions squad that he would be retiring at training on Tuesday evening, and is set for an emotional farewell at Sunday’s home Betfred Championship fixture against Batley.

Hock played nine times for England after winning his first four international caps for Great Britain in 2006, playing in the second-row in the unforgettable 23-12 victory over Australia in Sydney – and laying on a try for Danny McGuire with a moment of the destructive brilliance of which he was always capable in a defeat against the Aussies in Brisbane two weeks later.

His retirement means there are only four members of that triumphant Sydney team still playing professionally – James Roby, Gareth Ellis, Sean O’Loughlin and Jon Wilkin.

Hock, who scored 85 tries in 323 career games, told the Leigh website: “It’s been a hard, emotional couple of weeks, especially last night, telling the team, staff and my family that I’m retiring from Rugby League.

“I’ve trained and worked very hard to get back after my shoulder operation but six games in, my body’s just saying ‘no’. It’s not letting me do what I want it to do and how I want to play.

“So I’d rather retire now before I do more damage to my body and stop over-thinking, saying to myself I can still do it.

Micky Higham, the Leigh captain who toured Australia with Hock during England’s 2008 World Cup campaign, said: “It was emotional last night. Gaz likes you to think he’s a big, hard guy but underneath all that there’s a proper nice lad in there. Gaz showed his emotions and it was upsetting to see. That’s what Rugby League does for you. It took a lot of guts for him to speak in the way he did. It was a big call and he’s made a quick decision over the past couple of weeks, but we all respect him for it.

“I respect Gaz as a player and a friend. On his day there was no better English back-rower. In his Wigan days he was in his prime. Playing alongside him was awesome. He had a real knack of getting you on the front foot either with a charge down field from say a tap penalty or in defence when he’d sit an opposing player on his backside. He gave everyone in the team a huge lift.

“We roomed together on the 2008 World Cup and I was his minder. I ran him a bath every night for six weeks, packed his bags every time we moved hotels. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. They are great memories.”