All Blacks Legend Tony Woodcock Ruled Out Of World Cup
All Blacks legend Tony Woodcock’s Test career is over after a serious injury ruled him out of the World Cup, coach Steve Hansen said Saturday.
“He has played his last Test,” Hansen said.
“It’s obviously gutting and disappointing for Woody.”
Woodcock limped from the field with a serious hamstring injury in the 47-9 win over Tonga at Newcastle on Friday.
The 34-year-old is New Zealand’s most capped prop with 118 appearances, one short of Jason Leonard’s record 119 Tests as a prop for England (114) and the British and Irish Lions (5).
Only Richie McCaw and Kevin Mealamu have more caps for New Zealand.
A man of few words, Woodcock dismissed the career-ending blow saying: “These things happen.”
He is the 21st player, but the first All Black, to be forced out of the tournament by injury.
Woodcock became a national hero by scoring the All Blacks’ only try in their 8-7 win over France in the 2011 World Cup final. He got his 10th test try in Friday’s win.
“New Zealanders should be very proud of him,” Hansen said on Twitter.
Woodcock’s first Test was in 2002 but his coming of age as an international force came two years later against France in Paris.
“We’d struggled to beat Wales in the previous test (26-25) and he’d come under quite a bit of flak. The next game was the French and he totally out-scrummed them and took a lot of heart out of that,” Hansen recalled.
“Woody just got better and better and he’s been a great player. He’s a very mobile footballer and a skilled rugby player.”
Woodcock, known as a humble man, buried any disappointment about the abrupt end to his career, according to Conrad Smith.
“You’d never know it from him – that’s the way it is. Even hearing him talking to his wife on the bus behind me (after the Test) he said ‘oh well, these things happen’.”
Crusaders prop Joe Moody has been called into the squad. Moody, 27, had been due to play for Canterbury province on Saturday but instead went to the airport to fly to England.
Woockcock’s departure will be a fresh blow to the All Blacks who won all their four Pool C matches but have sown doubts over whether they can become the first team to defend the title with some error-marked performances.
Rugby commentators consider Woodcock to be one of the best loosehead props of all time.
A serious shoulder injury had ruled Woodcock out of most of the 2014 season.
He returned this year but had limited playing time with the Auckland Blues because of further injury.