Former Wallabies flanker David Pocock has been hailed as one of the greatest players ever by fans across the world after announcing his retirement from all forms of rugby on Friday.
The 32-year-old had been chronicling his career in pictures on social media over the past week, so there was the sense that his retirement was impending. These photos dated back to 2005 where he signed for the Western Force after leaving school.
Having bowed out of the Test arena after the World Cup last year, Pocock, the 83-cap Wallabies back row, was playing in Japan for the Panasonic Wild Knights until the Top League season was abandoned in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
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With this indefinite break, Pocock said on Instagram that it "feels like the right time to retire from rugby" before thanking those that helped him have the career he had. The response from the rugby world on social media was seismic, with the loose forward praised for his superiority at the breakdown.
In fact, it has been revealed by Opta that the Zimbabwe-born player has the most turnovers in World Cup history (34), and made more turnovers than any tier one player since his Test career began in 2008.
Having played across the back row during his career, he was often singled out as one of the great adversaries to All Blacks rival Richie McCaw. The former Western Force and Brumbies star was also a member of the dynasty of legendary opensides to play for Australia, receiving the No7 shirt from George Smith and handing it on to current captain Michael Hooper.
Given the injury-plagued career that he endured, Pocock's retirement does not come as a surprise. Indeed, it was touch-and-go last year as to whether he would make the World Cup due to a long-term calf injury. But he was fortunate to end his Test career on his own terms, as he has done with his club career.
As much as he was eulogised for his credentials on the rugby field, Pocock is just as well known for his humanitarian work and he will now focus on conservation projects in retirement.
"It's been a huge privilege to represent Australia. As a migrant I was always so aware of the way it reflected something of the best of the Australian spirit, bringing so many cultures together, and I tried not to take that for granted," Pocock said when announcing his retirement on Saturday.