Tom Shanklin

Last hurrah: Shanklin makes a break against New Zealand in his final Wales Test in November 2010

TOM SHANKLIN’S rugby-playing days were brought to an end in April when he was forced to retire because of a knee injury. The centre’s club career took in London Welsh, Saracens and Cardiff Blues, where he spent eight years, while he also followed his father, Jim, in donning a Wales jersey. During his ten-year international career he won 70 caps and scored 20 tries for Wales, and was also selected for two Lions tours, though injury curtailed his involvement in 2005 and ruled him out before the squad even travelled to South Africa four years later.

As he embarks on life outside of rugby, we asked Shanklin to look back on his career and pick out a few highlights.

Shanklin v Italy

Half century: in action during his 50th Test

Best memory…
Winning my 50th cap and walking out first (against Italy at the Millennium Stadium in February 2008)

Best game…
The 2005 Grand Slam win over Ireland – it was just so long since Wales had won one. The way we won the whole tournament, the way the day went, the crowd – everything was great.

Worst game…
Fiji at the 2007 World Cup. It was gutting to be knocked out of the tournament. Also being part of  the run of ten straight losing games before the 2003 World Cup – and playing in most of them.

Best team-mate…
I’ve played with so many centres. At the start of my career Tim Horan (Saracens) was a massive influence. I learnt a lot playing with him and I still keep in contact with him. I really enjoyed playing with Jamie Robinson at Cardiff Blues, and alongside Gareth Thomas too.

Best friend…
There’s so many. I really enjoyed the era with Wales from 2003 to 2005. That’s where we grew up as a squad. They’re the ones who understand where we’d come from and where we’d got to.

Worst room-mate…
There have been a few. Gethin Jenkins always wants everyone to leave his room and he snores badly. They’ve combated that by giving him his own room.

Dwayne Peel and Mark Jones

Get in! Peel and Jones in happier times pre-sheep

Best practical joke…
There’s been loads – I’ll pick two. The first is Mark Jones putting a sheep in Dwayne Peel’s room at the 2007 World Cup. Mark’s very good with animals having grown up on a farm so he managed to get the sheep in there, then it did its business everywhere!

The other was stitching Xavier Rush up on a blind date and videoing him – that was my masterplan. He gave a girl his number and then we got a friend he didn’t know to text him pretending to be the girl and arranging to meet up. We interviewed him about the date and filmed him getting ready, showering, shaving and so on. Then we went to the bar where they were meeting, sat upstairs and filmed him sitting downstairs with a bottle of wine and two glasses! That was pretty good – but I’m watching over my shoulder in case he tries to get me back.

Find out what Tom Shanklin’s next career move is – and how he would shake up the game – in the July issue of Rugby World, on sale Tuesday 7 June.

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