London– Flyhalf Charlie Hodgson and hooker Lee Mears retired from England duty on Thursday so the team could blood young contenders for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Coach Stuart Lancaster told both players during the tour of South Africa that they would not be picked again for the elite squad, and Hodgson and Mears agreed it was time to step aside.
Hodgson played 38 times for England in an 11-year career, and Mears received 41 caps plus one for the 2009 British and Irish Lions in South Africa.
“I had chats with both of them in South Africa,” Lancaster said, “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.”
Hodgson scored an England-record 44 points on debut against Romania in 2001, but he could never tie down a regular spot in the shadow of Jonny Wilkinson. He was a midweek player for the 2005
Lions in New Zealand, but injuries cost him a place in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, and he missed out on last year's tournament. He was a starter for the first time in four years in this year's Six Nations and scored chargedown tries in wins against Scotland and Italy.
“The time is right to let a new group of flyhalves take England forward,” Hodgson said.
Mears made his debut in 2005 and made the No. 2 jersey his from 2008.
“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,” Mears said. – Sapa-AP