Scotland and Exeter full-back Stuart Hogg has revealed he will retire after this year's World Cup in France.
Rather than call time on his international career, Hogg has confirmed a "new career beckons" at the end of the year, and he will hope to bow out on a high with Gregor Townsend's side. Hogg, who turns 31 in June, is expected to be part of Scotland's World Cup squad, with the tournament due to take place in France this autumn.
|What||Rugby World Cup 2023|
|When||8th September - 28th October 2023|
|How to watch||ITV|
|Odds||France 11/4, New Zealand 3/1, Ireland 4/1, South Africa 9/2, England 8/1|
Scotland's improvement on the international stage has been a monumental team effort, but Hogg has played a significant role for Townsend's side over the years.
To date, he has scored 171 points for Scotland, but he failed to add to that tally in the recent Six Nations.
Scotland were able to finish third in the Six Nations standings, but Hogg's role within the team has slowly diminished, even though he started four of his team's five matches.
Hogg's standing within Scottish rugby is huge, and he has been a mainstay in the team since he was handed his debut by Andy Robinson in 2012.
He has since played under Scott Johnson, Vern Cotter and Townsend, and only three players have picked up more caps than him for his country.
Hogg recently won his 100th cap for Scotland, and only Ross Ford, Chris Paterson and Sean Lamont have worn the shirt more, while the Exeter Chiefs ace is ninth in the all-time most points standings.
The 30-year-old sits on top of the tries scored standings though with 27, but team-mates Duhan van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Huw Jones are all within 11 of him, and they have time on their side.
With the upcoming World Cup the perfect stage to say goodbye, Hogg says he is ready for a new challenge in his life.
He said in a statement: "I don't feel my body can achieve the standards that I set myself for much longer.
"I've always wanted to finish at the top end of the game. After the tournament, a new career beckons, and I will attack it in the same manner as I play the game."
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Hogg has been at the top of the game for over a decade, and he spent the first nine years of his career with Glasgow Warriors.
He scored 228 points in 121 appearances for the Warriors, before moving to Exeter in 2019.
His form in Glasgow earned him his Scotland debut in the 2012 Six Nations, and he has played for the British and Irish Lions on three occasions in 2013, 2017 and 2021.
His 2017 tour was a disappointment after he suffered a facial fracture, but in 2021, he earned two Test caps against South Africa.
If he remains fit and is selected for this year's World Cup, it will be his third with Scotland.
During his two previous World Cups, Hogg has played in eight matches for his country.
At club level, he won the Pro12 title in 2015 with the Warriors, while he was part of the Exeter squad that won the Premiership and European Champions Cup double in 2019/20.
Hogg has been a winner wherever he has played, and he plans to bow out in the form of his life this year.
He added: "Rugby has allowed me to meet some incredible characters, make lifelong friends, travel the world and be part of some unbelievable experiences that I will cherish forever.
"Knowing what lies ahead, I have a real hunger to play the best, most enjoyable rugby of my career, finishing the season strongly with Exeter Chiefs before attacking the opportunity we, as a nation, have in France."
Scotland are 25/1 to win the Rugby World Cup this year, while they are 7/1 to win Pool B ahead of Ireland, South Africa, Tonga and Romania.
While Hogg's decision may shock some fans, both Townsend and Exeter Chiefs' Director of Rugby, Rob Baxter, do have options to fall back on when Hogg eventually hangs up his boots.
Fellow full-back Josh Hodge is waiting in the wings at Exeter, having played only 17 games since he moved to the south coast in 2020.
Townsend will certainly miss his expertise for Scotland, but Blair Kinghorn would be able to move to full-back with ease if necessary.
Hogg has undoubtedly been one of the best full-backs in the sport over the last decade, but before he hangs up his boots, he will be doing all he can to add to his trophy cabinet before the next generation fills the void.
The Chiefs are 12/1 to win the Premiership Grand Final, and 16/1 to lift the European Rugby Champions Cup.
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