Long bows out at 34 to take up coaching post


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The Independent Online

Sean Long, the only player to win the Lance Todd Trophy three times, has announced his retirement at the age of 34 to take up a coaching opportunity.

Long has made only 21 appearances in two injury-ravaged seasons with Hull, but enjoyed 12 successful years with St Helens, including being man of the match in three Challenge Cup finals.

After a series of fitness problems at Hull, he has been out since June with a shoulder injury and was not offered a contract for next season. Hull have already recruited new half-backs in Aaron Heremaia from the New Zealand Warriors and Jamie Ellis from Leigh.

"This isn't the time I planned to bow out, or the way I wanted to do it either," Long told the Hull Daily Mail. "Making this decision has been killing me.

"It has been such a difficult decision, but a coaching opportunity has come up, which I have to take up now."

Long began his career with his hometown club, Wigan, moving briefly to Widnes but finding his niche as Saints' scrum-half and winning a total of 23 caps for Great Britain and England.

It has been a career studded with controversy, with a suspension for illegal betting and an early exit from an Australian tour. On Twitter, however, he predicted that he will "look back on what I've achieved with a smile".

He did not reveal where he will begin what he hopes will be an equally eventful coaching career, but he will inevitably be linked with a possible return to Saints as part of Royce Simmons' staff.

The England winger Peter Fox is to rejoin Wakefield on a three-year deal from Hull KR.

Fourteen long years

April 1997 Sacked by Wigan for disciplinary reasons and joins lower league Widnes.

June 1997 Signed by St Helens.

June 2004 Suspended for three months for betting on a Saints match.

November 2006 Man of the match as England win in Australia for first time in 14 years.

November 2006 Pulls out of the tour after a drunken escapade on a flight.

October 2009 Leaves Saints after not being offered extended contact and signs for Hull.

June 2011 Dislocates shoulder in derby against Hull KR.

August 2011 Announces retirement.