Two veterans walk out on England
Two veterans walk out on EnglandSHARE
Charlie Hodgson and Lee Mears have decided, in conjunction with England head coach Stuart Lancaster, that they will not be considered for selection for the elite player squads next month.
The pair returned from their country's tour of South Africa on Monday, having discussed their international futures with Lancaster, and decided it was time to part ways with the England national team.
"Firstly, both Charlie and Lee have been outstanding senior players in the last six months and I cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me and this young squad as we move forward," Lancaster said.
"With 80 caps between them [Hodgson 38, Mears 42] they have a vast amount of experience and that has been invaluable.
"I had chats with both of them in South Africa and our thoughts were not too dissimilar – that if we are building a team for 2015 then, just as we did in January, we have to decide on which players will take us forward and be in the mix in three years’ time."
Flyhalf Hodgson said he was "very proud" to have represented England over the last 11 years.
"Wearing the shirt has always been the highest honour for me, not least in the last six months, and no-one would want to give that up," the 31-year-old said.
"But Stuart and I came to the same conclusion that the time is right to let a new group of flyhalves take England forward.
"Saracens have been very good to me and been key to me getting back on the international scene and I can now fully focus on them, not to mention a young family."
Hooker Mears spoke of the memories of playing international rugby and said those would live with him forever.
"I feel privileged and proud to have experienced two World Cups and a British Lions tour and to have had outstanding teammates," the 33-year-old No.2 said.
"While I won't be a part of it, having seen what Stuart has implemented over the Six Nations and in South Africa, I am excited about the future of this group of players and English rugby and I wish them all the best.
"I have at least one more year at Bath left and with a new coaching team I am excited about next season."
Hodgson will continue to play for 2010/11 Premiership champions Saracens, having joined them from Sale this past (2011/12) season, whilst Mears will be a key man for new Bath Rugby coach, Gary Gold, in the 2012/13 domestic season.