England rugby union stalwart, James Haskell has announced his retirement from the game aged 34.
Haskell has achieved a 12-year long career in international rugby having won three Six Nations crowns, including the historic Grand Slam in 2016.
However, this season has been a turbulent one for the flanker and re-occurring ankle and toe problems have ensured Haskell’s dreams of playing in this summer’s World Cup have crashed and burned.
Ultimately, limited appearances in a Northampton shirt this season and the emergence of fellow English flankers, Tom Curry and Sam Underhill have put his non-selection in no doubt.
“I have loved every minute of my career in rugby and feel very privileged to have played with and against some exceptional players,” Haskell said, per the Daily Mail.
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“There are so many people to thank, but in particular I would like to express my appreciation for all the coaches, trainers and physios who I have worked with throughout my career – from Maidenhead minis all the way up to England and the British & Irish Lions, I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.
“I also want to thank all my team mates over the years for putting up with me and giving me an adventure that allowed me to laugh every single day.
"My thanks go out to the supporters here at Northampton Saints too who have welcomed me with open arms; I wish I’d been able to offer more on the field this season.
"This next chapter was supposed to go a very different way, however that is the nature of professional sport. I’ve never spent so much time injured in my entire career, but I’m doing everything I can to help the squad here until my contract ends.
“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.”
Haskell had a glittering career and although he failed to achieve his dream of winning a World Cup, will have many fond moments to look back on.
One of his greatest came during the Australian tour of 2016 where England defeated the Wallabies 3-0 over the series.
Current England head coach Eddie Jones said: “His tour to Australia in 2016 sticks in my mind. He was absolutely outstanding on that tour, amazingly physical, uncompromising and just totally dominant.
“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 per cent for club and country.
“Not only a superb player, but also one of the game’s great characters; rugby will be poorer without the old fella.”