Wales captain Lee Briers to retire from international rugby

Lee Briers will bow out of Test rugby having won 23 caps for Wales
Lee Briers will bow out of Test rugby having won 23 caps for Wales

Wales captain Lee Briers will retire from Test rugby after Sunday's Four Nations game with Australia in Wrexham.

The Warrington half-back, 33, retired from international rugby in 2007 but returned for the 2010 European Cup.

Briers will bow out for the final time having won 23 caps for Wales and one for Great Britain in 2001.

"It has always meant something very special to me to represent my country and I felt honoured to have led Wales in this campaign," said Briers.

"But there comes a time in your international career when you realise that it's difficult to keep putting yourself out there.

"It's been a really tough decision because of the pleasure I've had but sometimes you've just got to realise that it's time for the next generation."

Briers needs to kick just one goal on Sunday against the Kangaroos to allow him to bow out with 100 points for his country.

But the huge experience of the St Helens product will not be lost entirely to Wales, as Briers revealed he will now be part of coach Iestyn Harris's backroom staff as Wales build towards the 2013 World Cup.

"What Wales have achieved has been remarkable given the resources they have and a huge amount of credit must go to Iestyn on the coaching side and Mark Rowley behind the scenes, and I'm really pleased to have been asked to be part of that set-up on the coaching front going forward," Briers added.

Harris paid tribute to his captain, saying: "Lee's played against Australia a few times in his career and it's a fitting tribute to what he's done for Wales rugby league to finish against arguably the best team in the world and the team that everybody wants the opportunity to play against.

"To finish his Welsh career on this sort of a high, whatever the result, is certainly a good send-off for him.

"I think the players will embrace that and look to put in a good performance, not only for Wales and themselves, but in respect of Lee who has been captain for the last two years and a very high performer for us for over 10 years."

Ian Watson and Chris Beasley will also both be playing their last game for Wales after Sunday's encounter.

If selected, 35-year-old half-back Watson will win his 31st and final record-extending Wales cap, but he will continue playing for Swinton Lions as assistant player-coach.

"I spoke to my wife and family and I've been doing this for a long time now," he said. "Whether it's for one game, two, three or four, I've always had end of season commitments.

"I've had a fantastic time with Wales over the last 16-17 years since I first made my debut against USA in Philadelphia. It's all changed since then of course but the one thing that's remained is all the players' passion for the Welsh shirt.

"The last few years especially have been really positive, winning the European Cup twice and qualifying for the Four Nations. It's been a massive boost to have been involved and with all the young players coming through the ranks, I think that Wales have a really bright future."

Beasley, who spent four years at Celtic Crusaders between 2006 and 2009, is retiring not just from Wales but from the game.

The 28-year old has spent the last two years at Central Comets in the Queensland Cup, a division just below the NRL in Australia, and at the same time took training to become a firefighter.

Now his work in his new profession has become more extensive so he has decided to concentrate on his new career.

"I am retiring after the game against the Aussies," Beasley confirmed. "With my job as a firefighter as well as family commitments it is has become increasing difficult to train and play at the standard that it is require to perform at a high level.

"It will be a surreal experience playing against my country of birth but I think it will be the perfect way to end my career by testing myself against the best players in the world."

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