The Test career of All Blacks great Tony Woodcock is over after injury ruled him out of the Rugby World Cup.
Coach Steve Hansen confirmed on Saturday that Woodcock suffered serious hamstring damage during New Zealand’s final pool win over Tonga in Newcastle and the 34-year-old prop wouldn’t recover in time to play in the knockout phase.
“He has played his last Test,” Hansen said, announcing the news on Twitter.
“It’s obviously gutting and disappointing for Woody.”
His place in the squad will be taken by eight-Test Crusaders prop Joe Moody, who flew out of New Zealand on Saturday after having spent the earlier part of the day preparing to play an NPC match for Canterbury.
Woodcock has become the third most capped All Black, with 118 Tests, which puts him ninth on the world all-time list.
A Test career that spanned 14 years will be best remembered for the try he scored in the 2011 RWC final in Auckland. He scythed through the centre of a lineout to register New Zealand’s only try in their tense 8-7 win over France.
Woodcock crossed against Tonga in his final Test – his 10th Test try and his first since the triumphant score at Eden Park.
The robust loosehead was renowned early in his career for a mix of scrummaging prowess and mobility. His scrummaging standards rarely dropped and he became a regular sight alongside evergreen hooker Keven Mealamu (129 Tests) at both Test level and in Super Rugby for the Blues.
Carl Hayman was a regular Test propping partner through his early years while Owen Franks has largely taken up that role in the past five seasons.
Hansen says it’s difficult to quantify the value of Woodcock’s reliability and work in the tight five.
“He’s an unsung hero. He can reflect on his career at some point when he is ready to do that with a lot of satisfaction. New Zealanders should be very proud of him,” he said.
“Woody just got better and better and he’s been a great player. He’s a very mobile footballer and a skilled rugby player.”
A farmer based north of Auckland, Woodcock’s preference was always to keep a low profile in the media.
He gave away little in interviews, preferring to talk up the deeds of others.
Earlier this year, he revealed 2015 would be his last international season before switching his full-time attention to farming.
Long-time All Blacks teammate Conrad Smith says Woodcock wasn’t flustered by the injury, which has denied him a shot at taking part in a second World Cup final.
“You’d never know it from him – that’s the way it is,” Smith said.
“Even hearing him talking to his wife on the bus behind me (after the Test), he said ‘oh well, these things happen’.”