CHRIS KIRWAN SAYS: Plenty of hard hits still to come from Ian Gough
8:02am Thursday 26th September 2013 in Sport
IT would have been easy for Ian Gough to pack it in when a deal to return to Rodney Parade went belly up.
The 36-year-old lock from Panteg looked set to return home to Newport Gwent Dragons this summer but the move didn't quite materialise.
It then seemed the end was nigh when the Ospreys announced on the eve of the season that they had agreed to end his contract a year early.
The language of the press release screamed retirement with the region wishing him the best as he went off to "undertake fresh challenges".
But Gough has decided that his time isn't up just yet – the man attempted to scale Mount Elbrus in Russia in the off-season has another test in his sights.
This week he penned a contract with London Irish where he will be putting his notoriously hard hitting to use in their battle to avoid the drop from the Aviva Premiership.
It's initially a short-term deal but I've no doubt that one of the most underrated players of recent years will become a firm favourite at the Madejski Stadium.
It presents Gough, a 2001 Welsh Cup winner with Newport, with the opportunity to add another chapter to a terrific career that saw him capped 64 times and spent 11 years at Rodney Parade, making 139 appearances for the Black and Ambers and 92 with the Dragons.
Choosing when to retire is tough for all sportsmen and for every individual who says they just knew is another who is frustrated that their career was brought to an end.
Another great Dragon, Steve Jones, was forced to hang up his boots by injury this year while the feelings are still raw for someone from Gough's neck of the woods.
"I don't think that it's easy to be told by somebody else that you have to retire and I can imagine that it would have been hard to take even if I was 34," said Wales hooker Lloyd Burns after a heart problem forced him to quit at the age of 27 last year.
Gough is a teak individual who came to symbolise the Grand Slammers of 2008, getting back into the defensive line in the win in Dublin despite being unable to move his arm because of a stinger.
He has decided that it's not over yet and pity the fool that runs in his direction in the mean time.
On Gough's Newport debut in 1996 he came off the bench to play alongside Hall of Famer David 'Muddy' Waters in the second row.
It was to be Waters' 702nd and last appearance for the Black and Ambers at the age of 40. Four more years Ian, four more years...
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