Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Tindall must look forward - Balshaw

Mike Tindall was part of the England side that won the 2003 World Cup

Mike Tindall agonised over his decision to retire, even after 17 years of top-flight rugby, according to Iain Balshaw.

Tindall became the last of England's 2003 World Cup winners to hang up his boots on Tuesday, choosing not to chase a new start after being left surplus to requirements at Gloucester.

The 35-year-old admitted he felt he could have played for two more years, but did not seek a new club after being released by Gloucester.

Former Gloucester, Bath and England team-mate Balshaw said Tindall will not regret retiring, but still had to wrestle with the decision.

"It's a huge call for him to make, more so when you're not forced to retire through injury," said Balshaw.

"He had a fantastic season last year, I know that he really wanted to carry on this year and stay at Gloucester, that wasn't to be.

"He will miss it, but he's made the decision to quit and he's got to look forward to what lies ahead.

"Only he knows, after 17 years, if would have really wanted to carry on he would have done so.

"It would have been a tough decision but he's got to look to the future."

Fellow World Cup winner Balshaw beat Tindall to retirement by four days, confirming a knee injury has ended his hopes of playing on at Biarritz.

Tindall, Balshaw and Jonny Wilkinson were the last of England's World Cup winners still plying their trade last season.

Wilkinson ended his career with a Heineken Cup-Top 14 double at Toulon, while Balshaw's Biarritz were relegated from the French top flight.

Tindall's retirement completes the end of an era for English rugby, with Balshaw hailing the 75-cap centre's influence at international level.

The Otley-born defensive fulcrum proved a pivotal figure in England's 2003 Six Nations Grand Slam that precipitated the World Cup victory.

Tindall missed England's run to the 2007 World Cup final with a broken leg, but was back in the squad for the abortive 2011 campaign in New Zealand.

Balshaw said Tindall offered the kind of grit any top-level player would want alongside them.

"He's had a huge impact on the English game," said the 35-year-old former Leeds flyer.

"Everyone talks about him bulldozing players, but he was fantastic in defence and had a great kicking game.

"He was a guy that if you were to pick someone in your team, he would be there.

"I can't think of many players that put their body on the line the way he did.

"He's had an outstanding career."

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