OITA, Japan (Reuters) - Australia's thumping loss to England on Saturday not only brought an end to their World Cup campaign, it also brought down the curtain on the careers of Wallaby greats David Pocock and Will Genia. Captain Michael Hooper said not to being able to send the duo into international retirement in a better manner only reinforced his disappointment at the 40-16 quarter-final drubbing.
"I've been a fan of those guys from being a young fella, to now playing alongside (them). Very proud to represent Australia with them," said the 27-year-old flanker, who will now have to wait until next season to win his 100th cap.
"A lot of me wanted to be able to send those guys out how they deserved to, but we weren't able to and that's part of the feeling – I'm feeling pretty gutted."
Pocock, a three-times world player of the year nominee, and Genia, who was nominated once, both played in three World Cup campaigns, reaching the semi-finals in 2011 and the final in 2015.
"It's the end. A bit of an outpouring of emotion after the game," said scrumhalf Genia.
"It's been an amazing journey. I've been so blessed and so privileged to have lived my dream. I'm very sad but also very grateful. Like, how lucky? Got to play 11 years for Australia, three World Cups.
"I never thought I was the most talented bloke, I always wanted to be someone who worked hard so put myself in a position to play well. I finish on 110 tests which I’m pretty proud of."
Pocock, whose brilliant poaching performance in the 2011 quarter-final against the Springboks all but won Australia the match, will finish with 83 caps.
"Not how I thought I would end. Just cop it on the chin," said the 31-year-old flanker.
"I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have had in the Wallabies jersey and for the opportunities rugby has given me.
"As an immigrant moving to Australia it has given me so much opportunity. I am grateful for the support I have had in Australia and family and friends in Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans all around the world."
Both players pointed to the performance of teenage centre Jordan Petaia on Saturday as evidence that the future of Australian rugby was bright.
Fullback Kurtley Beale has signalled his intention to play on at test level and he chose to pay tribute to Michael Cheika, whose five-year reign as coach is also almost certainly at an end.
"One of the best things about him is that you become a better footballer under him, but overall, when you reflect, you become a better person under his guidance," the 30-year-old said. "It's a very powerful thing to have as a person. His legacy will 100 per cent live on in this gold jersey."
(Editing by Tony Lawrence)