Teammates of Jack Clifford have been paying their respects to the 27-year-old Harlequins and England flanker after he announced his retirement from the game through injury.
Having come through the academy at Quins, Clifford forged a career on the professional ranks that has now ground to a permanent halt after he was unable to overcome a shoulder injury sustained in his 100th club appearance last September, the last of a catalogue of injuries for the loose forward.
Former Wales and British and Irish Lions centre Jamie Roberts, who played at the Stoop for three years, described Clifford as “one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of playing with”.
Meanwhile, his Quins and England back row partner Chris Robshaw labelled his retirement a “huge loss for club and country”.
Fellow Harlequin Joe Marler also shared the definition of the term ‘cannon fodder’ on Twitter in his typical oblique fashion, which ties in with many issues that have been raised by those in the game regarding player welfare and the strain that it is putting on bodies throughout careers.
— Chris Robshaw (@ChrisRobshaw) August 19, 2020
Great bloke. Wonderful player. One of the best I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. Be super proud of what you achieved for club and country mate. Onto the next chapter, which you’ll smash @jackclifford93 ?? https://t.co/6OgoCTeqQG
— Jamie Roberts (@Jamiehuwroberts) August 19, 2020
— Joe Marler (@JoeMarler) August 19, 2020
Jack man. Been a pleasure mate. No doubt you’ll smash the next chapter ?? https://t.co/ZcZ4e0G2Yk
— Danny Care (@dannycare) August 19, 2020
Really sorry to hear this, big loss for Quins and England. But being fit and pain free for life is far more important. Take care
— Will Carling (@willcarling) August 19, 2020
— Rachael Burford (@RachaelBurf12) August 19, 2020
Clifford earned ten caps for England between 2016 and 2017, seven of which were alongside Robshaw, and he was victorious in all of those fixtures.
Capable of playing across the back row, he was part of the new generation of players brought through by Eddie Jones having starred for England when they won the 2013 U20 World Cup.
Players and fans alike have been commenting on social media in the wake of the announcement on how this is yet another player who had a promising career cut short by injury. The shoulder problem was only the latest instalment in a series of setbacks that dramatically curtailed Clifford’s progress on the Test scene.
Although primarily a flanker by trade, Jones used Clifford as a No8 on two occasions for England in order to make full use of his dynamism on the ball.
He was a player that was held in high regard by the England coach and would have been part of his plans had he not been hampered by injury so severely.
One the good guys forced out far too soon.ADVERTISEMENT
— James Horwill (@JHorwill) August 19, 2020
What a bloke and player ? https://t.co/bwr2nbdGIp
— Anthony Watson (@anthonywatson_) August 19, 2020
Really sorry to read this mate. You’re a top player & enjoyed playing against you over the years. All the best for the next step.
— Matthew Kvesic (@mattkvesic) August 19, 2020
Sorry to hear, another rugby career sadly cut short… on to the next challenge pal with the same dedication ??
— Neil Back MBE (@NeilBack) August 19, 2020
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