Scotland fly-half Dan Parks announced international retirement


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The Independent Online

Scotland fly-half Dan Parks today announced his retirement from international rugby with immediate effect, five days before the RBS 6 Nations clash with Wales.

The 33-year-old Cardiff Blues back won 67 caps, scoring 266 points, including a Scottish record 17 drop-goals, and regularly turned tight matches in Scotland's favour during his eight-year Test career.

However, Parks was also much-maligned and his error in Saturday's Calcutta Cup loss to England - a charged-down kick which resulted in Charlie Hodgson's decisive score - will be part of his legacy.

After one of five rounds of the Six Nations, the timing of the decision could be brought into question, but Parks recognises with Ruaridh Jackson, Greig Laidlaw and Duncan Weir emerging, it is time to hand over the number 10 jersey for good.

Edinburgh half-back Laidlaw is now set to start in Cardiff on Sunday, with head coach Andy Robinson set to name his team tomorrow.

Parks had been contemplating retiring after the World Cup, when he was second choice behind Jackson, but the lure of the opening Six Nations clash with England was too strong.

He told "I was thinking about it but the first game of the Six Nations was against England, the auld enemy, Jacko was injured and being able to play against England was huge for me as there was a sense of unfinished business.

"On reflection after the game, after talking it over with my family, girlfriend and close friends I've come to the decision that now is the right time to retire from the international game.

"There are some really talented guys coming through - Jacko, Greig and Duncan - and although I'm sad to be finishing my international career I have some fantastic memories of playing for Scotland and what that has meant to me.

"I've no regrets at what has been an amazing career for me."

Parks becomes the third senior Scotland squad member to retire post-World Cup, following Nathan Hines and Chris Paterson.

Robinson did not select Parks in his first squad as head coach in 2009, but the Australia-born playmaker proved his credentials and steered Scotland to a number of successes since returning.

However, he fell down the pecking order as Robinson fostered a more expansive game plan and now his Test career is over - a decision the head coach backed.

Robinson said: "I have really enjoyed working with Dan. He wasn't in my first Scotland squads but through his own determination, hard work, skill and competitive spirit he forced his way back into selection.

"It's never an easy decision to make but I feel Dan has made the right decision and thank him for his contribution over the years."