Paterson: Retirement will hit home
Chris Paterson will now reflect on a record-filled Scotland career after announcing his retirement from international rugby.
Scotland will on February 4 tackle England at Murrayfield in the RBS 6 Nations without the services of Paterson, who has called time on a career which included record hauls of 109 caps and 809 points.
The 33-year-old anticipates the Calcutta Cup contest will be the moment full realisation comes that he will never again wear the dark blue jersey he wore with distinction and pride for 12 years and through four Rugby World Cup tournaments. And he told Press Association Sport: "That's when it will hit home."
He added: "There's highlights every time you take the field. I was lucky enough to win a first cap, which was special, but to then play in a 50th and 100th is something that springs to mind as a highlight."
Paterson, who will be 34 in March, made his debut in the 1999 World Cup versus Spain before becoming a regular in the inaugural Six Nations in 2000. He appeared at fly-half, wing and full-back and surpassed Gavin Hastings as Scotland's leading points scorer and Scott Murray's cap record on the 2008 tour to Argentina.
Paterson, who captained Scotland on 12 occasions between 2004 and 2007, demonstrated his resilience, returning in the November 2010 win over South Africa and forcing his way into the starting line-up during the 2011 Six Nations. He was first-choice full-back during the disappointing World Cup campaign in New Zealand.
His final appearance - the narrow World Cup loss to England at Eden Park - will stay in the memory. Paterson savoured every moment, just as he did every time he played for Scotland, but even more so because he knew it might well be the last time.
While the prospect of retiring immediately after the World Cup was considered, the decision was made at the end of November following consultation with family and friends, Scotland head coach Andy Robinson and current and former team-mates.
"The big emotion is pride and happiness," Paterson added. "I've made the decision, which I think is the right decision.
"It's a terribly hard decision to make and one you don't want to have to make, but you do have to make it. When you do make it on your own terms, in your time, at the right time, it's a lot easier."