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03 Jan 2008 13:20
Lawrence Dallaglio has announced his England retirement with immediate effect and intends to end his club career at the end of the current northern hemisphere season.
Dallaglio made some withering criticisms of Brian Ashton, the current England coach, for the way in which he prepared the England squad during the early stages of last year’s World Cup, in his recently published autobiography.
Although Ashton, who is set to announce his squad for the Six Nations next week, said Dallaglio remained available for selection, the 35-year-old has now taken the matter out of his hands.
Number eight Dallaglio, the only man to start every game of England’s victorious 2003 World Cup campaign, made the last of his 85 England appearances during October’s World Cup final defeat against South Africa in Paris.
“I have enjoyed a marvellous run and been the proudest of Englishmen every time I wore my country’s jersey,” Dallaglio told Thursday’s Sun tabloid
“However, I believe my international career has run its course and it’s time for me to step aside and make room for the young guns kicking down the door.”
“What I do want to emphasise is that my decision has nothing whatsoever to do with England head coach Brian Ashton and my post-World Cup observations concerning his preparation early in the tournament.
“Mike Catt and Jason Robinson have retired from the Test arena and I’m doing the same,” Dallaglio, who previously retired from international duty in 2004, only to come back again, added.
“But England are blessed with a number of experienced guys who wish to continue being considered for selection.
“England can also turn to former skippers Martin Corry, Phil Vickery and Jonny Wilkinson to provide the team with a spine of experience,” said the Wasps star, who was himself stripped of the England captaincy after being caught up in a newspaper drugs sting.
“For me, the journey began and ended with South Africa.
“I made my England debut off the bench against the Boks at Twickenham in 1995, which began a fascinating journey for me.
“It has been a marvellous experience and one that I cannot better.”
Dallaglio, who played in all three Tests of the British and Irish Lions 2-1 Test series win against South Africa in 1997, has been in fine form since the World Cup.
But he believes the end of the current campaign represents the right time to finish his 17-year career with the reigning European champions—his only senior club.
“I’m probably playing my best rugby in two years but there will not be another new season for me at Wasps,” he said.
“They are my only club and that’s how it will remain when my boots hit the bin at the end of the season,” Dallaglio said.
“Long-term I fancy coaching but it would have to be on the right terms and with the right set-up.”
Dallaglio, who also helped England win the 2003 Grand Slam, has led Wasps to four Premiership titles and two European Cup crowns and wants to win more trophies with the London club before he hangs up his boots.
“I want to end my Wasps career by leading them to another major honour,” the back-row forward said.—AFP
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