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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 12:56 UK

Wasps star Lewsey to quit rugby

Josh Lewsey
The utility back has played 259 times for Wasps

Wasps' former England back Josh Lewsey has revealed he will retire from rugby at the end of the season.

The 2003 World Cup winner, who won 55 caps over 10 years, ended his international career last year.

The 32-year-old utility back has, however, expressed his desire to be part of this year's British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

"I have never taken part in a winning Lions Test series. I would dearly love to go," said Lewsey.

Following Wasps' narrow win over Newcastle on Sunday - possibly the third last game of Lewsey's career - his club boss Ian McGeechan paid tribute to the versatile back.

"There aren't many English backs who will go home with the silverware he's collected, with World Cups, 10 trophies with Wasps and a Lions tour," said Wasps director of rugby McGeechan.

"He's been hugely significant in English rugby and the same at the club."

Archive - Lewsey's magical Six nations moments

McGeechan is in charge of this summer's Lions tour of South Africa and he has told Lewsey he needs to be playing well to be selected.

"I've told him he's got to be playing well first and foremost," said McGeechan.

"I have to look at all the pluses in the squad we want, the mix and how that fits in so there's a bit of sorting still to be done in that respect."

Lewsey scored 22 tries for England, as well as winning Lions honours, and helped Wasps to four Premiership titles, two Heineken Cups, a European Challenge Cup and two domestic cup successes.

The former Bristol player, who joined Wasps in 1998, revealed his next challenge would involve an attempt to climb Mount Everest in July 2010, before joining an accountancy firm as a management consultant.

"I am 32 and I suppose I could have gone on for a few more years," Lewsey told the Sunday Times.


"But Vanessa (his wife) is finishing her doctorate, you have to think about real life and responsibility, the possibility of a family."

Lewsey won his first caps at inside centre and fly-half against the All Blacks on England's "Tour of Hell" in 1998 but did not establish himself as a first-choice player until 2003, when he starred in wins in New Zealand and Australia after a Six Nations Grand Slam.

He played a major role in Sir Clive Woodward's England side that triumphed at the 2003 World Cup, playing five matches in the tournament and scoring an English record-equalling five tries in the pool game against Uruguay.

He made 27 starts at full-back, 12 on the right wing, 11 on the left, one at inside centre, two at fly-half and had two appearances off the bench.

Lewsey missed out on selection for the 2008 Six Nations, but was then recalled to the elite squad by new manager Martin Johnson.

Archive - Lewsey eyes Lions tour spot

However, he was overlooked for the November internationals following an indifferent start to the season with Wasps, and decided last December to focus his attentions on his club career.

He has not ruled out a return to rugby, saying: "One day, I may be back. I can count the number of great coaches I worked with on the fingers of one hand.

"Rugby has been my home, I have played it since I was four but it is time for the next step and the next challenge.

"In life, that is where the excitement comes from. Everest is seen as the ultimate challenge. It has been a goal of mine since I was young."

At the time of his international retirement last year, his Wasps coach Shaun Edwards described Lewsey as the "most successful back there has ever been in the northern hemisphere".

"That's not my opinion, that's a fact," Edwards added. "He's also one of the best big-game players there has ever been in professional rugby."

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see also
Wasps 12-6 Newcastle
05 Apr 09 |  English
Lewsey retires from England duty
10 Dec 08 |  English
Lewsey's England career in photos
10 Dec 08 |  English
Lewsey eyes Lions tour spot
10 Dec 08 |  Rugby Union
Cipriani floored in training row
08 Oct 08 |  London Wasps
Start of a new era at Wasps
04 Sep 08 |  London Wasps
Lewsey to extend spell at Wasps
20 Mar 08 |  London Wasps
England turn to Cueto for final
17 Oct 07 |  English
England win Rugby World Cup
22 Nov 03 |  Internationals

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