Accolades pour in for rugby's Gregan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Accolades pour in for rugby's Gregan

By Adrian Warren 21/08/2006 09:27:07 PM Comments (0)

Australian rugby captain George Gregan said he was driven by the desire to lead the Wallabies to World Cup victory next year, adding he still loved a challenge.

A gathering of over 30 people, including Prime Minister John Howard, assembled in Sydney to pay tribute to Gregan for becoming the most capped Test player in rugby history and setting a record tally of 57 Tests as Wallabies captain.

While some erratic form over the past year has generated plenty of speculation about his future in the Wallaby set up, a defiant Gregan declared his career wasn't finished, though he acknowledged it was a talking point.

"My career isn't finished, I know it's spoken about a lot, I know the Prime Minister's future is spoken about a lot and he's got a much more important role than what I have," Gregan said.

"But I'm still loving being coached and I'm still being challenged and I do want to be there come next year," added Gregan, who recently eclipsed Englishman Jason Leonard's record of 119 international caps.

Howard said Gregan had demonstrated great tenacity and was a wonderful role model.

He recalled Gregan's famous Bledisloe Cup-saving tackle on All Blacks winger Jeff Wilson in 1994, Australia's 1999 World Cup final win and the Wallabies' 2003 World Cup semi-final victory over New Zealand as three highlights of Gregan's career.

"George through his long career has demonstrated enormous tenacity, he's very feisty but he's always in control," Howard said.

"He's a wonderful role model, it's an Australian combination, he's not backward in coming forward, but at the end of the day he's always in control of the situation."

Former Wallaby captain John Eales, who guided Australia to its 1999 World Cup win, praised his former deputy for the "enormous" loyalty he had shown.

"It was something I could not have done without. We could not achieve as a team without your loyalty and commitment to the team," Eales told Gregan.

He recalled Gregan hardly said a word before his first two Test appearances in 1994, but said the halfback had shown great leadership qualities even before becoming captain.

Current Wallaby coach John Connolly and 1999 World Cup-winning coach Rod Macqueen were among the guests as were Gregan's former team mates David Wilson, Richard Harry and Jason Little.

Howard presented Gregan with a painting by Aboriginal artist Marlene Nungurrayi Young.

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