All Black lock retires

2013-05-24 07:44
Ali Williams (AFP)

Wellington - Veteran All Black lock Ali Williams called time on his international career Friday after playing 77 Tests over the past 11 years.

He made the announcement on the social media site Twitter with the message "It's that time" and a link to a video message in which the 32-year-old confirmed he was stepping down immediately.

"Guys, I just want to let you know first that I'm retiring from international rugby. I'm hanging up the black jersey. It's been an amazing 10 years but it's time to call it quits," he said.

VIDEO: Ali says goodbye to Test rugby

All Black coach Steve Hansen said he respected Williams' decision to retire and go out on his terms.

"By retiring he is doing what's best for the All Blacks and showing a tremendous amount of integrity by putting the team ahead of himself."

The announcement came just days after Williams took part as one of five locks in an All Blacks pre-season training camp and just two weeks before the start of a three-Test tour by France.

In recent years the All Blacks have developed three promising young locks in Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano and Brodie Retallick, who appear to have overtaken Williams in the All Blacks selectors' eyes.

Rising Crusaders middle-rower Dominic Bird, who was also in the training camp, is seen as next in line to earn a Test cap.

Hansen did not rule out that Williams could have been in the squad to play France but said the veteran "knows that it is better for the team to have a younger player in the position.

Williams was called into the All Blacks for the end-of-year tour to the northern hemisphere in 2002 and played his first Test against England in London on November 9 that year.

He played in three World Cups, including the successful 2011 campaign, and his last Test was against Italy on November 17 last year.

Throughout his illustrious career, Williams played 77 Tests plus one additional match against the Barbarians in 2004 and scored seven Test tries.

In recent years his international appearances have been restricted by a series of achilles and knee injuries.

"It took a lot of courage to come back to top flight rugby and that is a measure of the man and shows just how much he loves the game," Hansen said.

Williams said he would continue to play Super rugby with the Auckland Blues.

Read more on:    all blacks  |  ali williams  |  rugby

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