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Stevens ends England career

England prop Matt Stevens has retired from international rugby, the Rugby Football Union have confirmed.

The Saracens forward has won 44 caps for his country and played at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups. But the 29-year-old feels he cannot commit himself through to the next World Cup in England in 2015, and has chosen to step down from Test duty and focus his efforts on club rugby.

He said in an RFU statement: "This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. Playing for England has been the ultimate honour and I have been very privileged and proud to wear the white shirt and play with some great players."

Stevens added: "I believe England under (head coach) Stuart (Lancaster), Graham (Rowntree) and Andy (Farrell) are heading in the right direction towards 2015 and I remain a huge supporter of what they are doing.

"But I have a young family and, conscious that I would not be able to commit to the World Cup in three years, I have decided that the time is right to call it a day and to focus on my rugby at Saracens."

Stevens had been named in Lancaster's Elite Player Squad for the coming season, and the head coach will need to choose a replacement for the 2005 Lions tourist.

Lancaster said: "On behalf of England Rugby I want to thank Matt for his contribution over the years. He should look back on his international career with pride. I am sure he will continue to be successful with Saracens and beyond."

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