Born Friday 25 May 1979
For me now, I will continue to focus ever harder on my goal of being the very best I can be with Toulon Rugby Club and continue to embrace and enjoy wherever that path takes me.
I do, have done and always will believe that I am very capable of performing and thriving at any level of the sport.
Playing the game, representing the team, giving my all and never letting go has meant everything to me.
I never ever believed that I would be able to give up on this dream which has driven me to live, breathe, love and embrace the game of rugby from the earliest days that I can remember.
To make this announcement fills me with great sadness, but I know I have been blessed in so many ways to have experienced what I have with the England rugby team.
I would like to wish the England squad every success. I would also very much like to extend those wishes to Martin Johnson, Brian Smith, Mike Ford, John Wells, Graham Rowntree and the rest of the England 2011 World Cup management team who have been fantastic and deserve people to know that.
To say I have played through four World Cups, two Lions tours, 91 international games and a ridiculous number of injuries and other setbacks gives me an incredibly special feeling of fulfilment. I know myself well enough to know that I will never truly be satisfied.
I have no intention of letting this decision change the way that I approach my training and preparation for games, but the time has come for me to realise that I have gone as far as I can go with this England team.
What I am proud of is I have searched for the best of me and I have been a team man without fail.
I'm not necessarily proud of the World Cups and the grand slams won or lost, the amount of points I scored, this record or that.
Right through to the end of the last World Cup game, I still couldn't bear the thought of not being perfect or letting people down.
The problem with me is I always think I should've done better. I felt that after the World Cup final and through my whole career.
I want to be more than just some guy who played in a World Cup final.
I'm pretty aware that the pursuit of perfection is, inherently, a flawed concept.
We need to ask ourselves what are we here for and what have we worked so hard to be here for.
The conversation topic in my head is not what role I should play; it is whether I am going to play at all.
My own position is so far on the obsessive side of preparation and professionalism that I fear my point of view is not going to be shared by anyone.
I refuse to go into a fast-food outlet - to use the toilet even - in case anyone got the wrong idea and thought I was sneaking in a quick burger.
I like to think I play rugby as it should be played - there are no yellow or red cards in my collection - but I cannot say I'm an angel.
When you're obsessive, like me, searching for something unattainable can become unhealthy... it's like falling through the air and grabbing at the clouds.