October 19, 2019 / 1:31 PM / a month ago

Rugby-Wallaby greats Pocock and Genia bow out grateful and proud

    By Nick Mulvenney
    OITA, Japan, Oct 19 (Reuters) - Australia's thumping loss to
England on Saturday not only brought an end to their World Cup
campaign, it also brought down the curtain on the careers of
Wallaby greats David Pocock and Will Genia. 
    Captain Michael Hooper said not to being able to send the
duo into international retirement in a better manner only
reinforced his disappointment at the 40-16 quarter-final
drubbing. 
    "I've been a fan of those guys from being a young fella, to
now playing alongside (them). Very proud to represent Australia
with them," said the 27-year-old flanker, who will now have to
wait until next season to win his 100th cap.  
    "A lot of me wanted to be able to send those guys out how
they deserved to, but we weren't able to and that's part of the
feeling – I'm feeling pretty gutted."
    Pocock, a three-times world player of the year nominee, and
Genia, who was nominated once, both played in three World Cup
campaigns, reaching the semi-finals in 2011 and the final in
2015. 
    "It's the end. A bit of an outpouring of emotion after the
game," said scrumhalf Genia.
    "It's been an amazing journey. I've been so blessed and so
privileged to have lived my dream. I'm very sad but also very
grateful. Like, how lucky? Got to play 11 years for Australia,
three World Cups.
    "I never thought I was the most talented bloke, I always
wanted to be someone who worked hard so put myself in a position
to play well. I finish on 110 tests which I’m pretty proud of."
    Pocock, whose brilliant poaching performance in the 2011
quarter-final against the Springboks all but won Australia the
match, will finish with 83 caps.  
    "Not how I thought I would end. Just cop it on the chin,"
said the 31-year-old flanker.  
    "I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had in
the Wallabies jersey and for the opportunities rugby has given
me.
    "As an immigrant moving to Australia it has given me so much
opportunity. I am grateful for the support I have had in
Australia and family and friends in Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans all
around the world."
    Both players pointed to the performance of teenage centre
Jordan Petaia on Saturday as evidence that the future of
Australian rugby was bright. 
    Fullback Kurtley Beale has signalled his intention to play
on at test level and he chose to pay tribute to Michael Cheika,
whose five-year reign as coach is also almost certainly at an
end.
    "One of the best things about him is that you become a
better footballer under him, but overall, when you reflect, you
become a better person under his guidance," the 30-year-old
said. 
    "It's a very powerful thing to have as a person. His legacy
will 100 per cent live on in this gold jersey."

 (Editing by Tony Lawrence)
  
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