Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 20 News List

England captain Lawrence Dallaglio calls it a (long) day

AFP , LONDON

England captain Lawrence Dallaglio yesterday announced his international retirement, bringing an end to a decade with the national team that peaked with a World Cup triumph.

"After 10 years of being an England player, I feel the time is right to step aside," Dallaglio told a press conference.

The 32-year-old Dallaglio, who plays for Wasps in the English Rugby Premiership, won the World Cup with England last November and like several of the pillars of that team he has decided to call it a day.

"Last year, in terms of rugby, was very difficult to beat," he said in reference to World Cup triumph and Wasps' league and European Cup double in the domestic season.

Dallaglio, who captained England 22 times, also cited the "brutal" demands of modern rugby.

"The last three years have been a treadmill on which I could not get off," he said. "Players cannot go on forever. There is only so much you can take, year after year after year.

Right time

"After the tour [to New Zealand and Australia this summer] and the prospect of what lies ahead ... I felt the time was right to step aside. There are lot of good young players coming through and they need time to bed down."

However, Dallaglio, who has two years to run on his Wasps contract, did not rule out playing for the British Lions on their tour to new Zealand next year.

"It's not my job to pick or choose the games I play," said Dallaglio when asked if he would be available for the Lions tour, for which England coach Clive Woodward has already been named as coach.

Woodward said the search for Dallaglio's successor was already on.

"Lawrence's retirement from England does not preclude him from consideration for the British and Irish Lions tour next year as I am keeping my options open on all players."

Fellow England World Cup winners and past captains Martin Johnson, Neil Back, Jason Leonard, Kyran Bracken and Dorian West have already called time on their international careers.

Dallaglio, a robust and skillful back row forward, won 73 caps since making his England debut against South Africa in November 1995.

He is the fourth-highest capped England international of all time, behind Jason Leonard (114), Rory Underwood (85) and Martin Johnson (84).

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