Smith ends Aussie chapter
Brumbies star retires from international rugby
By James Mason. Last Updated: 05/02/10 10:29am
Smith: International retirement
Australia flanker George Smith has announced his retirement from international rugby, with the 29-year-old also set to leave the Brumbies.
"I have considered it a privilege to wear the gold jersey. The decision to retire from Test Rugby has been a very difficult one"
George Smith Quotes of the week
Smith has won 110 caps for Australia, making him one of only 10 players to reach three figures for the country, and had initially been contracted to the ARU and the Brumbies until after the 2011World Cup.
However Smith has now been granted permission to explore other options at the end of the Super 14 season.
And Smith admitted it had been a hard decision to make.
He said: "Throughout these 10 years I have always held a deep respect and honour for the Wallabies jersey and for what it means to be a Wallaby.
"I have considered it a privilege to wear the gold jersey. The decision to retire from Test rugby has been a very difficult one.
"Although I believe that I could play competitive rugby at the highest level and contribute to the Wallabies for many years to come, I know in my heart that this is the right time to step aside.
"In recent times I believe that the Wallabies have created the right balance between providing opportunity for the outstanding young talent that is within Australian rugby and also having the knowledge and experience in senior players to bring out their very best.
"I believe that the fruits of this hard work will be seen in the months and years ahead, most importantly at the 2011 World Cup.
"I believe that now is the time for me to give back to my family, to be able to spend more quality time with my wife and young children.
"It has become increasingly difficult for me to spend large periods of time away from home and my family and this is something that I would like to change."
Australian rugby union chief John O'Neill is disappointed at the news but acknowledges Smith as one of the country's top players.
He added: "George has made an enormous contribution to Australian rugby for more than a decade.
"His list of achievements in the game stands him alongside the all-time greats.
"We could have insisted he see out his contract and blocked any opportunities to play the game overseas before the next Rugby World Cup.
"His wholehearted commitment over 10 years, however, deserves special consideration."