(Reuters) – Former England captain and Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley announced his retirement on Thursday after failing to recover from a knee injury that cost him a place in the Rugby World Cup squad.
Hartley, 33, led England to back-to-back Six Nations triumphs in 2016 and 2017 but has not played since suffering the injury while representing club side Northampton against Worcester in December.
New Zealand-born Hartley was left out of Eddie Jones’ 31-man squad which finished runners-up to South Africa in the recently concluded World Cup in Japan.
“The last few months have been difficult mentally and physically as I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am no longer able to compete,” Hartley said.
“I’m extremely proud of my journey, both with Saints and representing England, but now is the right time to hang up my playing boots.”
Hartley ends his career as England’s second most capped player with 97 test caps — behind only former prop Jason Leonard who ended his career with 114 caps — and more than 250 appearances for the Saints.
“I have loved my journey in rugby. I came to England as a teenager hoping to get a few games of rugby and to see the world,” Hartley added.
“I could have never have predicted that one day I’d play 14 years for such a special club and go on to represent and captain England.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)