Former Wigan Warriors star Gareth Hock makes "scary" decision to retire from rugby league
He tormented Australia and starred for hometown club Wigan, and now Gareth Hock has called time on his long playing career.
The 35-year-old confirmed his decision on social media last night, saying he has been unable to fully recover from a shoulder operation.
"My body's just saying 'no' and it's not letting me do what I want it to do and how I want to play," he tweeted. "It's been a hard, emotional couple of weeks, especially today telling the team, staff and my family that I'm retiring from rugby league."
He added: "I've had my ups and downs, more ups, and achieved everything I want to in rugby. It's scary, but you know when it's time."
He thanked everyone he has met and played alongside over the years.
Hock had most recently been playing for Leigh and has also played for Featherstone, Widnes and Salford, but it was his time at Wigan that he will be most fondly remembered by many.
A former academy international, he burst onto the scene in 2003 and went on to establish himself as one of the most potent back-rowers in Super League.
Hock played the game on the edge and in 2006 he was called-up for Great Britain's Tri-Nations tour Down Under, where he was outstanding in the 23-12 victory over Australia in Sydney - the last time GB, or England, beat the Green and Gold.
A former Super League Young Player of the Year, he spent two years out of the game because of a ban for taking cocaine but came back strong, and had arguably his best season in 2012, when Shaun Wane succeeded Michael Maguire.
He back-flipped on a move to Parramatta and was kicked out of England's World Cup squad in 2013, but for all the controversy, he remained a fans' favourite for his confrontational and aggressive style.
Players past and present were quick to pay tribute to him on Twitter.
"Congrats on a top career Gaz," wrote Toronto's Ashton Sims. "Every time you've had a setback you've come back stronger, which is a testament to your grit and perseverance."
Warriors centre Oliver Gildart posted: "All the best in your next move, Gaz."
"Top, top player," wrote former GB team-mate Leon Pryce. Richie Mathers wrote: "Rest up big man, you've done it all with nothing to prove anymore."