Record-breaking Scotland prop Euan Murray has announced he is retiring from the international game.
The 34-year-old Glasgow Warrior has appeared 66 times for his country – more than any other tighthead prop – but just four months before the start of this year’s World Cup has decided to call it a day.
Murray – who made his Dark Blues bow against Romania in Bucharest back in 2005 - said: “I am extremely proud and grateful to have represented the people of Scotland at rugby for so long.”
The 2009 British and Irish Lion’s retirement will give Scotland head coach Vern Cotter a major headache as tries to rally his troops after this year’s miserable RBS 6 Nations campaign, but that did not stop the Kiwi paying tribute to Murray.
He said: “At his best Euan was a world-class tighthead prop. On behalf of the team and management, I wish Euan and his family all the very best.”
BREAKING: Scotland's most-capped prop Euan Murray today announced his retirement from international rugby. pic.twitter.com/IsonusxnVf— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) May 11, 2015
Murray has long been regarded as one of Scotland's few top-class operators but his decision not to play on the Sabbath due to his stringent religious beliefs has caused selection issues.
And with his wife Sarah now expecting their third child, he has decided to step aside and allow Cotter time to make plans for his replacement.
“I have to be with my family as much as possible before and after the birth,” explained the former Northampton, Newcastle and Worcester forward.
“Clearly, with the Rugby World Cup looming, the national squad will be training and playing throughout that period and I have too much respect for the national jersey to put myself forward in those circumstances.
“I’ve made this decision now after much deliberation and lengthy discussions with team management so that they can plan ahead accordingly.
“I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the excellent coaches, world-class medical staff, supportive fans, friends, and, most of all, my family for helping to make my career possible.”
Murray – who scored two Scotland tries – added: “I will retire with many great memories of victories, tours, and friends, both in the playing squad and team management.
“I wish the Scotland men all the very best with this year’s Rugby World Cup and beyond.”