Iain Balshaw's 5 Greatest Moments

Danny Coyle@dannyjpcoyleFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2014

Iain Balshaw's 5 Greatest Moments

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    Former England full-back and wing Iain Balshaw announced his retirement from the game this week.

    The ex-Bath and Biarritz man has succumbed to a knee injury, per The Guardian, who reported his tweet: “After 16 months of unsuccessful rehab it is finally time to call it a day on my rugby career.”

    It was a career that brought 38 Tests and 13 international tries, totals that surely would have been higher but for a number of injuries that interrupted his progress.

    Former England coach Brian Ashton previously said of Balshaw, per BBC Sport: "Iain is very good at taking a panoramic view of the game in front of him...His ability to read space, often at the last possible moment, is second to none."

    So, as one of the most naturally gifted players of his time, here are Balshaw’s five best moments.

5. This Try for Biarritz

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    Balshaw had the full skill set as a player, as this try against Toulon shows.

    He spotted the gap, hit the line at pace, then executed an excellent chip over the last defender which he gathered himself to score.

    Not many players can pull that off.

4. The Chip for Luger's Try

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    In the early 2000s, English victories over Australia were a rare commodity, but Balshaw had a vital role to play in one of them.

    With time running out on the clock and the home side trailing 19-15, England had one last attacking position. Matt Dawson found Balshaw on the narrow blind side.

    With little room, the full-back went to the air with a perfectly executed chip over the Wallaby defenders, which Dan Luger won the race to in order to score the winning try.

3. Becoming a Test Lion

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    Balshaw played in all three Tests of the 2001 Lions tour as a replacement.

    He was part of the side that won that thrilling first encounter but could do little about the resurgent Wallabies as they claimed the second and third matches to win the series 2-1.

    The tour as a whole was not spectacular for Balshaw, who missed out on the starting No. 15 shirt to Matt Perry.

    Nevertheless, Balshaw can look back on that tour as one in which he became a Test Lion. And that is an exclusive club.

2. 80m Try vs. Italy

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    Balshaw’s reputation as one of the game’s most dangerous broken field runners was bolstered by this stunning try against Italy in 2001.

    He picked up the ball after it was scooped off the floor to him on his own 22–metre line and cut a swathe through the Italian defence with that effortless running style of his.

    There were few finer sights than the beautifully balanced Balshaw in full flow.

1. 2003 World Cup Final

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    Balshaw was in the 22 for the 2003 World Cup final and got on to the field during extra time as England looked for the winning points.

    He may not have touched the ball or had anything to do with the game, but officially he was one of the 15 players in the team who was on the field when Jonny Wilkinson did his thing.

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call "one for the grandchildren".