English Rugby
Moody pays tribute to Wilkinson
ESPNscrum Staff
December 12, 2011
England captain Lewis Moody is flanked by Mike Tindall and Jonny Wilkinson at the squad's official team photo, Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, England, August 23, 2011
Lewis Moody sits alongside Jonny Wilkinson prior to the 2011 World Cup © Getty Images

England's 2011 World Cup skipper Lewis Moody has paid tribute to Jonny Wilkinson following his retirement from international rugby.

Moody, who played alongside Wilkinson in the 2003 World Cup-winning team and only announced his own retirement from the sport in October, said: "I'm humbled to have played alongside him.

"I'm saddened but his contribution over the years, his work ethic, professionalism and commitment, has been immense. He put everything into what he did. It was incredible to watch him train and perform.

"The fact he missed four years of international rugby but still amassed 97 caps is unimaginable. It's a real shame he's decided to retire but what he's given to the sport, and a generation, is immense.

Moody told Sky Sports News he believes the Toulon player could have continued at the top level - but understands why he has made the decision. If he puts his mind to it he could keep doing it - and I think he could have given more.

"But for him the decision is right and considering the amount of work he's put in and the number of injuries he's had in his career, he deserves to enjoy a long and restful retirement."

As for England's future without Wilkinson, Moody added: "The next four years will be very interesting. We've got a great group of players and talent coming through and with a new coach in place it will be interesting to see how they take it forward."

And Moody's sentiments have been echoed by England and Harlequins winger Ugo Monye who described him as "a total legend, on and off the pitch". "He's an unbelievable ambassador, he's a guy who I thought was never going to retire," Monye told Sky Sports News. "He's the most professional sportsman I've ever worked with.

"It's the mindset. I went to school with Jonny. The way he trained then as a 16-year-old is just how he trains now."

Monye added: "You probably wouldn't' find a prouder Englishman, he absolutely loved playing for his country. For him to hang up his boots and watch from a distance is obviously going to be frustrating. The class of 2003 was pretty special, but he's one of the best names up there.

"He's a total legend on and off the pitch, always got time for everyone. He'll be remembered for a lot of good reasons."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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