Australia lose 'best' physio to rugby league

Errol Alcott, the physiotherapist Steve Waugh described as "the best in the business", has ended his 22-year association with Australian cricket to work with the South Sydney rugby league club. Alcott earned enormous respect after his efforts in the crucial recoveries of Waugh, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath from serious injuries, and he was called on to help the actor Russell Crowe during his filming of the movie Cinderella Man.

Crowe is a part-owner of the struggling rugby league club and Alcott will join their physical performance and rehabilitation unit. "Part of me is sad that my time with the team is coming to an end, but I am looking forward to the new challenges in my professional life," Alcott said. "I believe I've left a legacy to the sport and have many fond memories including three victorious assaults on the cricket World Cup, and eight successful Ashes campaigns out of ten from 1986 to 2005."

Alcott, who was quickly nicknamed "Hooter" after asking if they sounded one when a game finished, started with the national team on the 1983-84 tour of West Indies and was involved for 243 Tests and 516 ODIs. During his reign he reorganised the way the team treated fitness, developed new training regimes and set long-term individual programs for the players.

He is best known for his work on Waugh's calf during the 2001 Ashes tour, when he ensured Waugh was fit to farewell England with a century at The Oval only 19 days after tearing a hole the size of a 20c piece in the muscle. Alcott also looked after Warne as he came back from finger and shoulder operations and had many other successes as he plotted ahead-of-schedule recoveries.

Michael Brown, the Cricket Australia manager of cricket operations, said Alcott had been an outstanding servant to Australian cricket. "He has assisted countless international cricketers over ten Ashes series and many other important moments during a period in which Australia has, for the most part, been top of cricket's tree," he said. "Errol's positive impact on the Australian dressing room over the past two decades has been immense." Brown said he was unsure whether Alcott would play any part in Australia's attempt to regain the Ashes this summer.