Hodgson stepping down from international stage

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HALIFAX-BORN Saracens fly-half Charlie Hodgson and Bath hooker Lee Mears have retired from international rugby after being told they do not feature in the future plans of England head coach Stuart Lancaster.

Hodgson won 38 England caps over an 11-year international career while Mears represented his country on 41 occasions and made one Test appearance for the British and Irish Lions, against South Africa in 2009.

Lancaster spoke to both players during the summer tour of South Africa and they agreed that England need to blood younger players in their positions, with the 2015 Rugby World Cup in mind.

“Both Charlie and Lee have been outstanding senior players in the last six months and I cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me and this young squad as we move forward,” said Lancaster. “With 80 caps between them they have a vast amount of experience and that has been invaluable”

Andy Farrell has completed his England u-turn by agreeing a deal to re-join Lancaster’s coaching team until after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Farrell was part of the interim coaching set-up, with Lancaster and Graham Rowntree, which guided England from the wreckage of their World Cup campaign to second place in the Six Nations championship.

Lancaster wanted to make the appointment permanent once he got the full-time job but Farrell initially decided his coaching future lay with Saracens, where he still had two years left on a contract.

But Farrell had a change of heart at the end of the Premiership season and resigned from his position as Saracens head coach.