Springbok scrumhalf Ricky Januarie called an end to his international rugby career on Friday.
The South African Rugby Union said in a statement that Januarie (29) had withdrawn from the Springboks’ preliminary World Cup squad to focus on commitments with his new French club, Lyon.
“I’ve had a great run in South African rugby and have some fantastic memories, but the time has come to move on,” Januarie said.
“Lyon have offered me a new beginning and I want to concentrate all my efforts on helping them in their first season in the French Top 14.”
Saru confirmed that Januarie had been released from his contract with Western Province and would join Lyon at the start of the European season.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said Januarie had been a “great servant” to the national team.
“He is a combative and fearless player and has been a part of some memorable Springbok performances,” De Villiers said.
“I wish him all the best for the new chapter in his playing career.”
De Villiers said Januarie had been included in the premilinary World Cup squad only as experienced cover for other senior scrumhalves.
“Ricky and I chatted and he knew where he stood in our Rugby World Cup plans,” said De Villiers.
“He has reached the stage in his career where he wants to move on and there was no reason to stand in his way.
“He has produced some memorable moments over the years and his match-winning try against New Zealand in Dunedin [in July 2008] will be remembered as long as the Springboks play.”
Januarie earned the first of his 47 Test caps against Uruguay in East London in 2005.
He played his final Test against New Zealand in Soweto last year.
Januarie formed part of the squads that won the Rugby World Cup in 2007, as well as the 2009 Tri-Nations and the series against the British and Irish Lions later the same year.
He made his provincial debut for Boland in 2002 before moving to the Golden Lions where he spent six years before returning to the Western Cape in 2008 to join Western Province.
Januarie recently made his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Stormers, and his 93rd for all teams in the competition. — Sapa