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Saturday, 16 November, 2002, 18:17 GMT
Greats pay tribute to Quinnell
Scott Quinnell
Injuries have finally taken their toll of Scott Quinnell
Scott Quinnell's decision to retire from Test rugby marks the end of a Wales career that stands proudly alongside any who have worn the red shirt.

The Llanelli and Lions No 8 made his announcement after Saturday's match against Canada, where he won his 52nd Wales cap after coming on as a substitute.

It brought to an end an international career that began in 1993 against the same opponents, encompassing two Lions tours on the way.


I still think he's got a lot of rugby left in him
Wales great Ray Gravell

Perhaps the finest Welsh No 8 of them all, Mervyn Davies, was first to pay tribute to a man he recognises as a fellow great.

"There is no shadow of a doubt that he is a world-class performer," Davies said.

"Over the years Wales hasn't had that many and Scott would have walked into any international side in the world.

"He has been performing at a high level for nine years now and he's never let Wales down, that's for sure."

Davies' style of play was very different from the bullocking Quinnell, his elegant side-steps and elusive running earning the nickname of 'Merve the Swerve'.

A brain haemorrhage in 1976 ended Davies' playing days and nearly ended his life.

Since Davies, only Quinnell has come close to equalling the great man's stature at the base of the scrum, if not his style.

Quinnell's pedigree - as son of Lions great Derek, nephew of fly-half legend Barry John, and Davies' Godson - is untouchable.

Wales an Lions great Mervyn Davies
Mervyn Davies knows what makes a good No 8

But the rigours of a career that also carried him into the world of rugby league took its toll and his arthrtic knees have called time on the Test arena.

"Only he knows how bad the injury is," Davies added. "The way that he plays the game he is always going to be a target for the big hits.

"It's important that Scott made the decision and not the Wales management.

"He has to continue with that knee and if it is that bad I couldn't see have seen him being around for the World Cup next year.

"That's what most teams are building towards, although they've got a Six Nations Championship in the new year.

"Let the new breed begin, if you see what I mean, there are a lot of young guns around in the back row.

"No-one is indispensible, I suppose, and Scott's place will be taken, the sooner the better."

Another Welsh great, Ray Gravell, backed Davies' assessment of Quinnell's playing career while also adding his praise for the player's personal attributes.

Scott Quinnell scores against Australia in the first Test
Quinnell starred for the 2001 Lions in Australia

"Scott is a gentleman," Gravell, one of rugby's great ambassadors himself, said.

"We're all aware of his prowess on the field but he's a nice man, a family man, and he has time for people.

"He's given tremendous service to Welsh rugby and to Llanelli Rugby Football Club.

"He's captained his country, he's captained his club, he's played with distinction - we're very proud of Scott Quinnell.

"He inspires others - his mere presence on the rugby field helps others."

But the president of Llanelli would like to see Quinnell taking the field at Stradey Park for many seasons to come.

"We hope that he will continue to play for Llanelli," Gravell added. "I still think he's got a lot of rugby left in him.

"But the knees are a bit creaky, his body has taken a battering."

Wales play four Tests against Romania, Fiji, Canada and New Zealand

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