Eastbourne’s Joe Marler said it had been an ‘honour and privilege’ to represent his country as he announced his retirement from England international rugby.
The 28-year-old prop, who used to play in the youth sections of Eastbourne and Hellingly Rugby Clubs, stepped down from the England set-up to spend more time with his family.
The Harlequins man won 59 England caps, having made his debut in 2012. He also toured New Zealand in 2017 with the British and Irish Lions.
Marler, one of rugby’s colourful characters, said, “Being with England you have to spend an incredible amount of time away and I could not do that any more. It is an incredible commitment to play rugby for England and I strongly believe that if you are unable to give yourself fully to it then it is time to step away - otherwise it would not be fair on the team, or my family.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my country and of course this has been a very difficult decision to make.
“Now is the time to walk away and get some new blood in the team. And I am looking forward to being able to give my wife and children more of my time.
“I would like to thank everyone at England for the opportunities that I have been given. I will always be grateful for the memories playing for my country has given me.”
Marler will carry on his club rugby with Harlequins and is set to feature for them in their Premiership match at Gloucester on Saturday.
It’s a blow for England boss Eddie Jones as he continues his preparations for the 2019 World cup in Japan. England also face South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia in the November autumn internationals.
Jones added, “Joe is a great player and team member, so I am disappointed and we will miss him. But he has made his decision on personal grounds and we understand his reasoning.
“He’s a good guy - an honest, mature person who understands the demands of the game and the demands of family life. I have got to admire his honesty and the way he has gone about this.”