Leigh Centurions have confirmed that Gareth Hock has announced his playing retirement with immediate effect.
The former international forward announced his decision to the coaching staff and players last night at training.
Gareth Hock said: “It’s been a hard, emotional couple of weeks, especially last night, telling the team, staff and my family that I’m retiring from Rugby League.
“I’ve trained and worked very hard to get back after my shoulder operation but six games in, my body’s just saying ‘no’. It’s not letting me do what I want it to do and how I want to play.
“So I’d rather retire now before I do more damage to my body and stop over-thinking, saying to myself I can still do it.
“I’ve never really been aware what’s been said or written about me, whether it is a positive or a negative. I ignore it. I’ve always had the mind set: No one can challenge me better than myself.’
“It’s sad to go out this way but I wish to thank each and every single club that I gave my all for. I can say that every time I put on a shirt I played for the fans. Thank-you for the memories.
“I loved my time at Leigh Centurions. The fans were awesome and took me to their hearts, accepted me as one of their own. Leigh goes down as a big part of my life for so many reasons.”
Leigh Centurions head coach John Duffy said: “Gareth’s announcement came as a shock. I thought he’d wait until the end of the season before making a decision on his future, but his body hasn’t reacted after games as it used to, and he’s found recovery difficult. Gaz is a proud guy and he’s decided to call it a day.
“Gaz has been a big part of the game for many years with the way he went about his business, the way he approached the game and with his aggressive nature.
“Gaz and the likes of Adrian Morley helped make Super League what it was and, on a personal level, he’s been great for me as coach at both Featherstone and Leigh.
“As a young coach it’s been a great learning curve for me to have a player of Gaz’s calibre and international stature and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to coach him and for him to become a friend.
“I hope he stays involved in the game in some way, shape and form. It would be a waste of his talents otherwise.
“He comes across as a no-nonsense kind of guy but he’s very clued-up and he knows his stuff.
“I remember compiling a video to celebrate his 300th game when I was at Fev. The guys I approached were the likes of Shaun Wane, Micky McIlorum, Adrian Morley and Micky Higham, real tough, no nonsense guys he respects.
“Last night was an emotional one. Gaz asked to speak to the group and we all listened, then I spoke and Micky as club captain. It was one of those moments you’re not going to forget for a long, long time.”
Leigh Centurions owner Derek Beaumont said: “It is an emotional time for Gaz to hang up his boots after everything he has achieved in the game.
“He was always one of my favourite players when he was at Wigan and in the international set-up. He epitomised what Rugby League used to be about; he was tough, led by example and always enjoyed the ‘biff.’ The game moved away from a lot of that and he has found himself falling out of love with it, picking up countless suspensions whilst at Salford.
“When I got the call from his agent out of the blue to come to Leigh I jumped at it, albeit a big investment at the time. But signing Gaz was a great move for the Club as it set an example and others followed him to join us. Gaz gave his all for me and I will always treasure the moment he jumped on me at Hull KR when we won in the 8s and knew at that moment we had achieved our dream of Super League. Although we still needed one more win, he knew and I knew. We all knew!
“That was how much it meant to him and it showed how much he knew it meant to me. A lot of people don’t know Gaz but think they do and say and write things about him that are wrong. He is the hardest, softest man I know. We have so much in common.
“He is a family man who dotes on his wife and kids who mean more to him than any game of rugby. He probably likes a glass of red as much as me as well and now my mate you can enjoy them whenever you want. I look forward to sharing a glass on Sunday at the game and looking back on your fantastic career. I will always respect how you wore the shirt for our great Club.”
Leigh Centurions club captain Micky Higham said: “It was emotional last night. Gaz likes you to think he’s a big, hard guy but underneath all that there’s a proper nice lad in there. Gaz showed his emotions and it was upsetting to see. That’s what Rugby League does for you. It took a lot of guts for him to speak in the way he did. It was a big call and he’s made a quick decision over the past couple of weeks, but we all respect him for it.
“I respect Gaz as a player and a friend. On his day there was no better English back-rower. In his Wigan days he was in his prime. Playing alongside him was awesome. He had a real knack of getting you on the front foot either with a charge down field from say a tap penalty or in defence when he’d sit an opposing player on his backside. He gave everyone in the team a huge lift.
“We roomed together on the 2008 World Cup and I was his minder. I ran him a bath every night for six weeks, packed his bags every time we moved hotels. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. They are great memories.
“Coming to Leigh the fans took to him straight away. They loved having Gaz Hock in their own back garden.”
Gareth Hock, 35 scored 12 tries in 53 games for the Centurions between 2015 and 2017 before joining Featherstone Rovers last season. He then became a free agent after parting company with Barrow Raiders and made a further six appearances with Leigh in 2019.
A former Great Britain and England international he came through the Wigan scholarship and academy ranks and made his first team debut in 2003 against Doncaster.
He scored a total of 48 tries in 191 games for the Warriors before leaving to spend a season-long loan at Widnes in 2013.
He then joined Salford before signing for Leigh in February 2015, earning Heritage Number #1397 and playing a big part in the club’s promotion to Super League the following year.
Outstanding in the early part of 2017 on his return to the top-flight his season was sadly cut short by injury just when he was recognised as one of the competition’s in-form middles.
Hock has scored 85 tries in 323 career games and his impressive international career comprises four games for Great Britain, nine for England and four for England A.
Gareth Hock was sponsored by Palatine Paints, whose managing director Jason Huyton is also Leigh Centurions’ commercial director. He said: “Gaz holds a special place in our hearts within our family and we are all saddened that we won’t see him playing for Leigh again but also immensely proud of his achievements in a fantastic career. We wish him every success and happiness for the future, and he will always be a friend of ours.”