Kevin Brown - Warrington Wolves’ St Helens-born half-back - has announced his retirement from international rugby league with immediate effect.
The 33-year-old, who played his junior rugby for a number of local clubs, including home village outfit Haydock Warriors, Pilkington Recs, Thatto Heath Crusaders and Blackbrook, had been named in the England Elite Performance Squad for 2018 ahead of this year’s mid-season Test and Autumn International Test Series against New Zealand.
Brown, who also played Super League rugby for Wigan Warriors, Huddersfield Giants and Widnes, said: “It feels like now is the right time for me to retire from international rugby, I’ll be 34 by the end of the year when the International Test Series comes around and I think having the rest at the end of the season will help me play better and for longer at Warrington Wolves.
“Obviously I’m disappointed I can’t play on forever but I think I’ve been really lucky that I’ve played so many games, I started playing for England in 2010 and finished at the end of 2017, I’ve loved every minute but I just feel that the timing is right.
“I spoke to head coach Wayne Bennett to let him know my decision and thanked him for everything.
“He is one of the nicest coaches I’ve had and one of the coaches I’ve learnt most from especially in such a short period. I have really enjoyed playing for him and being part of that group. I am gutted I won’t be part of that squad anymore but it is the right decision for myself and for the team.
“Playing against Tonga in the World Cup was my England career highlight, the atmosphere in that World Cup semi-final was something I’ve never experienced.
“I’ve played in Cup finals and now a World Cup final but nothing comes close to that game in terms of the atmosphere, the volume of the crowd, the way the lads stuck in right until the end will always be special to me.
“There’s some fantastic players that deserve a chance now and England are going to be a fantastic nation and we are definitely building towards success and I know that everyone is buzzing about Wayne deciding to stay on as head coach.
“I’m the biggest England fan and I’m proud that I’ve been part of that journey with them. Every time they play I’ll be cheering them on and I know they’ll do well, they are a fantastic group and I’ll always support England with my little lad and my family.”
Brown played four times for England in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup and made his debut in 2010 under former England head coach Steve McNamara.
Bennett said: “Kevin has been the ultimate professional and shown a great attitude and an unwavering commitment to the England programme. He contributed greatly to our performance at the World Cup and in the mid-season Test game against Samoa.
“Kevin has all the playing and personal qualities that we require from our players and showed great professionalism throughout.
“We fully understand the reasons behind his decision and wish him the very best.”
Brown won’t be replaced in the EPS at this stage.