All Blacks stalwart Hore confirms international retirement
The 35-year-old Hore had been widely expected to retire after the All Blacks’ end-of-season tour in Europe, an expectation that crystallised when he was not offered a contract with any of the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises for next season.
“I don’t think I’ll be playing in the All Black jersey again,” Hore, who won 83 caps since making his debut in 2002, told reporters at Auckland airport on Wednesday when he arrived back from the tour.
“I’ve had a good run. Hopefully I can get home and make a good fist of my next job which is going to be a farmer.
“I’ll do that, hopefully if I do that as well as I’ve played rugby then I shouldn’t be going too bad.”
Hore’s last test was on Sunday against Ireland where the All Blacks scored an injury-time converted try to beat the home side 24-22 and secure the first unbeaten season by a top tier international team since the game went professional in 1995.
Hore’s retirement now creates an issue for All Blacks coach Steve Hansen who must find a third hooker to develop ahead of the 2015 World Cup in England.
Dane Coles, introduced to the national side in late 2012 to be groomed by Hore and fellow veteran Keven Mealamu, has now won 15 caps and on the end-of-season tour appeared to have grown into the role and become accustomed to test rugby.
Hansen also instigated a familiarisation scheme earlier this year inviting promising players to spend a week with the All Blacks in camp.
The Otago Highlanders’ Liam Coltman (23), Canterbury Crusaders Ben Funnell (23) and Wellington Hurricanes’ Motu Matu’u (26) have emerged as likely contenders to battle for the place of third hooker next season.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Rex Gowar)