11 Oct 2015

Woodcock out of World Cup

9:29 am on 11 October 2015

Tony Woodcock's Test career is over after the All Blacks confirmed a hamstring injury has ruled their most-capped prop out of the rest of the World Cup.

Tony Woodcock during the Bledisloe Cup game between the All Blacks and Australia at Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand. 15 August 2015. Photo credit: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

Tony Woodcock Photo: Photosport

The 34-year-old loosehead, who was retiring after the tournament, sustained the injury as the reigning champions beat Tonga 47-9 on Saturday to cruise into the quarter-finals as Pool C winners.

The injury will take at least three weeks to heal, so Woodcock's out of the Cup - and rugby.

The third most-capped prop in the history of the game behind Gethin Jenkins of Wales and England's Jason Leonard, Woodcock scored New Zealand's only try in their 2011 World Cup final triumph.

Along with Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Keven Mealamu, Woodcock was considered a key member of that All Blacks side, and coach Steve Hansen was disappointed his career had ended this way.

"It's not a great way for a great player to play his last test match if he's going to retire," Hansen told reporters. "So it is disappointing for him, but sport's like that, it can be quite cruel."

All Blacks captain Kieran Read (L), coach Steve Hansen (C), and assistant coach Ian Foster during the post match press conference after the All Blacks beat Tonga at the World Cup, St James' Park in Newcastle. 10 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz

All Blacks captain Kieran Read (L), coach Steve Hansen (C), and assistant coach Ian Foster Photo: Photosport

Woodcock will be replaced in the squad by Crusaders prop Joe Moody, who flew out on Saturday to join the squad in Swansea.

Wyatt Crockett and Ben Franks have also started a match apiece at loosehead prop.

Moody, 27, had been expected to start Canterbury's provincial game against Southland in Christchurch on Saturday but sat in the stands before leaving the ground at half-time.

Canterbury coach Scott Robertson confirmed he spoke with All Blacks manager Darren Shand just after noon on Saturday, and they agreed to let Moody go.

New Zealand will play Ireland or France in the World Cup quarter-finals in Cardiff on Sunday.

A sheep and dairy farmer, Woodcock played for his country at all age levels before making his Test debut against Wales in Cardiff at the age of 22 in 2002.

He soon cemented his place in the New Zealand front row and played all three Tests in the British and Irish Lions triumph of 2005 and four matches at the 2007 World Cup.

Regarded as the best loosehead in the world for his scrummaging and hard work around the pitch, Woodcock's mobility also made him a threat with ball in hand.

He played every match in New Zealand's triumphant 2011 World Cup campaign, 13 Tests in 2012 and 12 in 2013 before injury struck to wreck his 2014 season.

Tony Woodcock talks to Richie McCaw after the All Blacks beat Canada at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Wellington on Sunday, 2 October 2011. Photo: Dave Lintott / photosport.co.nz

Tony Woodcock talks to Richie McCaw after the All Blacks beat Canada at the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Wellington Photo: Photosport

A shoulder injury also ended his 2015 Super Rugby season prematurely and he brought an end to his 12-year career with the Blues in June.

"He's an unsung hero, Woody," Hansen added. "Woody just got better and better and he's been a great player. He's a very mobile footballer and a skilled rugby player.

"He can reflect on his career at some point, when he's ready to do that, with a lot of satisfaction and New Zealanders can be very proud of him."

Woodcock could yet remain in camp, with Hansen saying that's a decision the now-former player needs to make.

- RNZ / Reuters

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