Celebrated Australian flank George Smith announced his immediate retirement from international rugby on Friday to pursue a move abroad.
The 110-Test veteran, 29, will quit the Brumbies at the end of the Super 14 season in May and seek a foreign club, ruling him ineligible for the national team. Smith said he was keen to spend more time with his family and experience a different culture after 10 years in the Wallabies set-up.
“In light of these considerations it is my intention to explore the opportunities to play for an international club at the conclusion of the 2010 Super 14 season,” he said.
“The decision as to where I will continue my rugby career will be made with regards to the best interests of my family and I have no definite plans in this regard at this time.”
Australian Rugby Union on release of contract
Australian Rugby Union chief John O’Neill said Smith, one of only four men to win 100 Wallabies caps, had been granted early release from his central contract ahead of next year’s World Cup in New Zealand.
“Obviously we wanted George to stay and continue through to his third Rugby World Cup,” O’Neill said, saying Smith stands “alongside the all-time greats”.
“We had lengthy discussions. However, when he made it clear that his passion for international rugby was not the driving force it once was, we agreed there were suitable grounds for an early release given his long and continuous service to the game in this country.”
Smith made his Test debut against France in 2000 and scored nine tries for Australia. He has also made 120 appearances in the southern hemisphere’s Super 14 competition.