Stevens walks out on England
Thu, 09 Aug 2012 15:00
This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make
Controversial prop forward Matt Stevens has killed off any chance he had of a second Lions tour.
The England prop, Stevens, on Thursday announced that he has retired from international rugby.
The Saracens forward has won 44 caps for his country and played at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.
However, the 2005 B&I Lion called time on his England career and decided to concentrate on his club commitments with Saracens - as he looks to spend more time with his family rather than in camp with his country.
The Saracens prop informed England head coach Stuart Lancaster of his decision.
"This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make," he said in a statement.
"Playing for England has been the ultimate honour and I have been very privileged and proud to wear the white shirt and play with some great players," Stevens added.
"I believe England under Stuart, Graham [Rowntree] and Andy [Farrell] are heading in the right direction towards [the] 2015 [World Cup on home soil] and I remain a huge supporter of what they are doing.
"But I have a young family and, conscious that I would not be able to commit to the World Cup in three years, I have decided that the time is right to call it a day and to focus on my rugby at Saracens."
Lancaster said: "On behalf of England Rugby I want to thank Matt for his contribution over the years.
"He should look back on his international career with pride. I am sure he will continue to be successful with Saracens and beyond."
Stevens had been named in Lancaster's Elite Player Squad for the coming season, and the head coach will need to choose a replacement.
The 29-year-old appeared to have plenty of time left at the top level, especially after having an enforced two-year lay off for cocaine use between 2009 and 2011.
Stevens made his England debut in 2004, less than two years after joining Bath having moved over from South Africa where he previously represented the Junior Springboks.
He was part of Clive Woodward's B&I Lions squad to New Zealand in 2005, but missed out the 2009 adventure to his homeland after failing a drugs test in January of that year.
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