- Matt Stevens has retired from England duty with immediate effect
- 44-cap man to concentrate attention on Saracens and young family
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Saracens prop Matt Stevens has decided to stand down from international rugby with immediate effect.
The 29-year-old, who won 44 caps and appeared in two Rugby World Cups, has informed England Head Coach Stuart Lancaster of his decision.
“This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. 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,” said Stevens.
“I believe England under Stuart, Graham [Rowntree] and Andy [Farrell} are heading in the right direction towards 2015 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.”
Former Bath man Stevens was a British and Irish Lions tourist in 2005 and made seven appearances at Rugby World Cup 2007, playing off the bench in the 15-6 final defeat to South Africa.
Then, after a two-year enforced absence from the game, he returned as a major force in the Premiership as new club Saracens defeated Leicester Tigers 22-18 to win the title 2011.
That form was enough for Stevens to force his way into Martin Johnson’s Rugby World Cup 2011 squad for New Zealand, where he made four appearances.
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’ replacement in the England Elite Player Squad will be announced in due course. The props currently in the second-string Saxons Elite Player Squad are Nathan Catt, Paul Doran Jones, Matt Mullan, Henry Thomas and David Wilson.