London Wasps have announced that flank Joe Worsley is to retire immediately from rugby due to a neck injury.
Worsley, who joined the Wasps academy in 1993 as a 16-year-old, has failed to recover from the injury which has prevented him from training in recent months, and he has made the tough decision to hang up his boots.
"Last season I suffered an injury to my neck that has effectively ended my career. Since March I have been following medical and rehab advice but it didn't help, and restarting contact work during the England World Cup Camp made it obvious that I could not continue," Worsley said.
"My life as a rugby player started at Welwyn under 9s and finished in an England training session - I want to say thanks to everyone who helped me on that path. I'm proud of what I achieved and how I played the game."
Worsley made over 300 appearances for Wasps in a career spanning almost two decades. He has won almost every accolade possible with the Club, lifting the Heineken Cup twice and the Premiership four times as well as the Powergen Cup on three occasions. He has also represented the Barbarians, the British and Irish Lions and has earned 78 caps for England, including a World Cup win in 2003, for which he was awarded an MBE.
London Wasps owner Steve Hayes said: "Joe is a real legend at this club and we are all very sad to see his playing days come to an end. He has been a fantastic servant to Wasps and played a huge role in much of the club's success.
"He also was a superb representative on the international stage, becoming a key figure for England and inspiring many budding young players with his tenacious back row play. He will leave big boots to fill and we wish him all the very best as he moves on with the next stage of his life. I hope that we will still see him regularly around Adams Park and he knows he is welcome back here anytime."
Damian Hopley, CEO of The Rugby Players Association, said: "It is such sad news when any player has to retire prematurely and I am very sorry to learn that Joe's injury has meant his playing days have ended. As a former teammate, we always sensed that Joe had all the necessary attributes and humility to become an outstanding international player and he played a leading role in both Wasps and England successes over the years."
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