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'Kruis is just making a load of coin... bloody hell, good for him'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Visionhaus via Getty)

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The past fortnight has been quite the contrasting time for 32-year-olds rugby players Ben Youngs, George Kruis and Mark Wilson, a trio that England prop Ellis Genge knows well. Youngs equalled Jason Leonard’s all-time national team caps record on February 13 in Rome and he will surpass that mark if he comes off the Twickenham bench this Saturday against Wales.  


“I can’t see myself making it that long,” said the recently-turned 27-year-old Genge about Youngs, his club and country colleague, whose stellar career shows no sign of ending any time soon. Kruis and Wilson will definitely understand Genge’s “can’t see myself” sentiment, though. 

Both were forwards who came off the bench at the 2019 World Cup final and they recently announced their respective retirements at the age of 32 within eight days of each other. Kruis last Tuesday opted not to jump back into the heat of the Premiership battle next season following his three-season sojourn in Japan, preferring to pursue business interests instead of resuming his playing career back in England once he is finished in the Far East. 

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Meanwhile, Wilson hobbled away into the winter sunset on February 14, a short-lived run as a Newcastle sub last month being his only appearance in an injury-hit campaign that got off to the dubious start of a season-stalling knee operation.  

Genge is off to Bristol at the end of this season, embarking on a fresh adventure at his hometown club after making his way up the ladder at Leicester where he is now a club captain. Those leadership skills have also been recognised by England, Eddie Jones making the front-rower one of his vice-captains. 


He hopes he won’t have stopped his rugby by the age of 32 but nothing is guaranteed, especially given the vastly contrasting stories of Youngs, Kruis and Wilson. “Touchwood I’ll make it but tomorrow is never promised,” said Genge to RugbyPass in midweek ahead of what will be his 34th capped England appearance this weekend. 


“Props obviously go through a lot more duress physically than scrum-halves but I mean Ben is a world-class operator. To be honest scrum-halves, I guess Conor Murray and all those boys are older as well, I don’t know, maybe I spoke out of turn. Props supposedly come into their own in the latter stages of their career. We’ll see. Hopefully, we will be having a conversation in six years’ time and I’ll take it back.”

Asked for his thoughts on Youngs’ fellow 32-year-old England contemporaries Kruis and Wilson, Genge continued: “Kruis is making a little coin with the fourfive stuff so he probably thinks he doesn’t have to put his body through it anymore and bloody hell, good for him. That’s amazing. 

“But you have got to think firstly for Mark. He has been in the game for a long, long time. He started at Newcastle Uni or something (Northumbria University), then he went to Blaydon and played in Nat One doing all the rainy days up in the north, played at Newcastle, played his whole career at Newcastle, potentially could have gone to France or Japan and looked to cash in somewhere but he just wanted, I know he went on loan at Sale but more or less he was a one-club man in terms of contracts.

“He said in his (retirement) statement it is not necessarily all through injury. I messaged him, said I’d catch up for a brew with him soon and he was like, ‘Thanks so much and all that’. But I think Kruis is just making a load of coin so he has pulled the pin before anything else happens.” 



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