Retiring Harlequins prop Mark Lambert has been showered in praise from his former teammates.
The 35-year-old announced he will be bringing his 17-year professional career to an end on Wednesday, and will not be returning when the Gallagher Premiership resumes in August.
That means his 251st and final appearance for Quins was a 28-15 loss to Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate in March before the season was suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He is a player that may not have received the fanfare on the Test stage that some of his Quins teammates have, or indeed his fellow loosehead Joe Marler has, but typifies what it means to be a one-club man. That has been echoed by many who have played with him throughout his career at the Stoop.
Only Mike Brown, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Nick Easter have made more appearances in the league for Quins than the prop, and all five were part of the club’s greatest days in the modern era, chiefly the Premiership final win in 2012 against Leicester Tigers.
Brown labelled his former teammate a “Harlequins legend” while Care said he “has been the heart and soul of the club since the day I joined”.
Former Australia and Harlequins captain James Horwill also said he was a “one club man who is the heartbeat of the club”.
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Having represented England at under-19 and under-21 level, Lambert’s career was not necessarily plain sailing, as he suffered a number of troublesome injuries early on in his career, while Harlequins were relegated in his first season as a professional.
Since 2017, Lambert has served as the chairman of the Rugby Players Association, and has been at the centre of attention in recent weeks regarding the potential player strike over the pay-cuts during the pandemic. He plans on continuing to serve as chairman in retirement.
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