(Reuters) – England and Northampton Saints flanker James Haskell will retire from the sport at the end of the season.
Haskell, who represented England in 77 tests in a career spanning 11 years, has endured an injury-plagued campaign this term as he has struggled with ankle and toe problems.
“I have loved every minute of my career in rugby and feel very privileged to have played with and against some exceptional players,” Haskell, who left Premiership side Wasps to join rivals Saints on a one-year deal last May to prolong his international career, said in a statement.
“Retiring is obviously a really difficult decision for me to make; professional rugby has been the centre of my life for such a long time now and while it’s weird to imagine living without it, I look to the future with huge excitement.”
The 34-year-old played for his country in two World Cups and won three Six Nations titles.
He made over 200 appearances for Wasps in two spells at the club and was part of the British & Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand in 2017.
“I look back at my career and have been lucky to have done most things there are to do in rugby,” Haskell added. “Sadly, I’ll never know what it’s like to win a World Cup or represent the Barbarians.”
England coach Eddie Jones hailed Haskell’s contributions to the team, describing him as a “glue player”.
“It was a privilege to coach him, but also great fun. He’s what I’d describe as a ‘glue’ player – someone who always tries to bring a squad together,” Jones said.
“Despite injuries preventing him from achieving his goals this season, he should be remembered for a great career and as someone who never gave less than 100 percent.
“Not only a superb player, but also one of the game’s great characters. Rugby will be poorer without the old fella.”
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)