Japanese lock 'Iron Man' Ono hangs his boots

TOKYO: Japanese lock Hitoshi Ono , who won a record 98 games for his country and played in the famous 2015 Brighton Miracle World Cup victory over the Springboks , announced his retirement on Monday.

The 42-year-old played his last game for the Brave Blossoms against Scotland in a 21-16 loss in 2016, leaving him dying two blocks from his 100th.

Didn't participate in the side of Japan's history that reached the 2019 Rugby World Cup quarterfinals at home, with veteran locks Luke Thomson and James Moore preferred in the Japanese engine room.

At 37, he was the oldest man to represent Japan when he took the field for his last hat, with then coach Eddie Jones praising an incredible achievement and attributing his long career to some unusual abilities.

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He is an incredibly tough player and that is why he is chosen, Jones said at the time.

If you want a strong boy, make sure he is raised on a dairy farm, deliver the newspapers every morning, drink 10 beers a night, Jones added in typically lighthearted comments.

Ono started his career against Korea in 2004, but the highlight was undoubtedly Brave Blossoms' 34-32 victory over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup, arguably the biggest surprise in the history of the sport.

Relatively short for a six-foot-four-inch (1.95m) block, he managed to score 13 attempts in his international career, but none against top-tier opposition. He also captained Japan seven times.

At the club level, he played for the Japanese franchise Super Rugby the Wolves and I enjoyed a long career with Toshiba Brave Lupus , whom he joined in 2001.

Originally from Fukushima, Ono was a baseball player in high school and college, but switched to rugby at age 18 after being courted by the rugby team.