Gareth Hock was offered chance to end career with Wigan Warriors, admits Kris Radlinski
Gareth Hock was offered the chance to return to Wigan to finish his career, Kris Radlinski has revealed.
The 35-year-old forward announced last night he is retiring from rugby league after struggling to overcome a shoulder injury.
He played for five clubs but spent the majority of time with hometown club Wigan, having burst through in 2003 and went on to play 191 games before his exit in 2013.
And in paying tribute to his former team-mate, executive director Radlinski says he tried to get Hock back on board for this season.
"Gaz is one of the most talented players of recent years. On his day he was almost unplayable," said Radlinski.
"You couldn't efficiently tackle him without hurting yourself. You would invariably end up with an elbow in the eye or in the throat and then he would turn around and offload the ball. He was one of those players who, when you saw his name on the team sheet, you thought it was going to be a difficult day.
"It wasn't that long ago that we actually offered him the opportunity to finish his career at Wigan. The stars did not align on that occasion, but he will always be welcome."
Hock and his family have been invited to Wigan's game against Wakefield tomorrow night.
Other former team-mates have been quick to praise the firebrand back-rower.
Wigan and England captain Sean O'Loughlin said: "I played with and against Gaz from our school days so I've known him for a long time. My first game against him, he was playing in the halves - he was still big, but he had a skill-set about him and as tough and aggressive as he was, he also had subtleties in his game which made him a step above many others.
"I loved playing alongside him, just knowing he was out there on the pitch and he'd always have your back. He's probably disappointed he didn't get more opportunities against the Aussies and the Kiwis but when he did, he more than held his own - you knew he had it in him to break down their defence or get in their faces and put that doubt in their minds.
"I think, sometimes, people make a judgement on characters from the way they play the game - especially those who sometimes cross the line - but I got to know Gaz really well over the years and he is a top fella who'll do anything for anyone."
Former Great Britain prop Adrian Morley said: "When I first played alongside him was for Great Britain in 2006 and to be honest I didn't know a great deal about him because I was at the Sydney Roosters at the time.
"But I trusted Terry Newton's judgement and he said, 'Watch this lad' - and I was impressed from the start.
"Not unlike me, he played the game aggressively and he got stuck in. He made an impact everywhere he went and I'm sure he would have done well if he'd gone to the NRL.
"He had a couple of controversies along the way but that doesn't get away from the fact he was a great forward, you loved playing alongside him, and when you played against him you knew you were in for a game.
"He's a belting lad as well."
And Warrington stand-off Kevin Brown, who is Hock's brother-in-law, said: "The best way to describe what Gaz meant as a team-mate was in the dressing room, before a game, you were always that much more confident with Gaz in the side with you. And flip it around, as an opponent, you were aware you'd be facing someone who could inflict some damage - whether that's with an offload, a step or cleaning you out!
"He was fantastic on the field, and off the field, people probably had an impression of what he was like but once they got to know him, they all loved him."