Sean Lamont: Glasgow & Scotland wing set to retire at end of season
Veteran Glasgow wing Sean Lamont, Scotland's third most-capped player, is set to bring the curtain down on a 17-year career at the end of the season.
Lamont, 36, won 105 caps between 2004 and 2016, behind only Chris Paterson (109) and Ross Ford (107).
He returned to the Warriors - where he enjoyed a two-year spell earlier in his career - in 2012, and believes the time is right to retire.
"Unless they beg me to stay another year, I think I'm done," he said.
"I have had a great run and enjoyed every single moment but it is time to step aside. I am not going to flog a dead horse, although some might say I've been two years dead anyway!
"I love the sport, I love being in it and I love the guys I work with. But I just don't have the gas anymore. I can't get through those holes I see. I can still truck it up a distance, but there is definitely a blunting of the axe.
"It is disappointing it is coming to the end but I am 36 and I have done pretty well considering, when you look at the guys in the Scotland squad. Even if I was just arriving at my peak I don't think I would get in the current side."
Lamont started his career with English side Rotherham in 2000 before joining Glasgow, and also had spells with Northampton and Welsh outfit Scarlets before returning to Scotland with the Warriors.
The Perth-born player won his 105th cap as recently as last summer against Japan, after joining the original squad as a replacement for the injured Tim Visser.
But with Glasgow boasting frontline Test wings in Scotland's Tommy Seymour and Italy's Leonardo Sarto, and two other Scottish internationals in Lee Jones and Rory Hughes, Lamont has been restricted to just four starts in his 10 appearances this season.
|Scotland's most capped players|
|Chris Paterson 109|
|Ross Ford 107|
|Sean Lamont 105|
|Scott Murray 87|
|Mike Blair 85|
|Gregor Townsend 82|
"Lee Jones has been playing brilliantly, Rory Hughes has come through and re-signed for another two years," Lamont noted. "It's time for me to move on and get a new line of work.
"I would love to stay in the sport, without a doubt. It has given me so much. The last few years I've enjoyed seeing the young guys come on more than playing myself.
"Working with Hoggy [Stuart Hogg], Rory Hughes, Mark Bennett… just helping out and passing on whatever wisdom I can. That has been a real enjoyment, so it is a good time to retire and coach."
'The talent in Scotland is vastly greater now'
Lamont believes the current group of Scotland players are a very different breed from when he first entered the Test arena in 2004.
"The players we have now are so much more rounded," he reflects. "They are coming through as fully professional players, the way they have to be these days. Rugby when I started was a different animal.
"Look at Hoggy - he's 24, the youngest guy to get to 50 Scotland caps and he's developed massively over the last few years. I've got a lot of time for him. It's the same with Jonny Gray. He started at 17 and is reaping the rewards at 22-23 - he has come through massively.
"When I was 24 I had only been playing professional rugby for two years. The talent we have now in Scotland is vastly greater than in my early days. The players who have come through since the World Cup are really starting to put something together.
"We have got big boys who can carry hard and we are a fit team which is a big thing now. We probably didn't have that in the past."
'Glory comes through being part of a winning team'
Scotland included either 12 or 13 Glasgow players in each of their match-day squads in the Six Nations, vindication of the Warriors' success in recent years but also a significant barrier to their hopes of reaching the Pro12 play-offs for a sixth straight season.
While their first ever European Champions Cup quarter-final, away at Saracens on 2 April, is a major target for those players, three Pro12 defeats in their absence during the Six Nations period has left the 2015 champions 11 points off a top-four spot, with only five games left.
"We are not quite dead yet, although we probably need to win every game to have a chance," Lamont added. "It is a double-edged sword, having success with Scotland using all of our top players. I don't think any other team loses that number. Yes, we have a big squad but losing so many talented players is a serious hit.
"We have still got Europe. It is tough to do both and throw yourself into both competitions. If we do drop out of the league, then maybe we can throw everything into one pot. Getting through against Saracens and winning the whole thing would be ideal.
"Hopefully I might get a squeak in a couple of games, but I am fairly realistic about it. I am there if called upon, but if not I am there to support the rest of the team.
"I wished I had done that more as a younger player. It is a point I keep making to the younger guys here. Glory comes through being part of a winning team, rather than the individual."