Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Time to Call It a Day Is Coming, but It Won't Be This Season

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Time to Call It a Day Is Coming, but It Won't Be This Season

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON LEONARD

MARTIN JOHNSON retired, Neil Back dropped . . . who is going to be next? I have been around rugby long enough to recognise the end is a lot closer than it was a couple of years ago and, while I cannot say when it will come, I hope it will be at a time of my choosing. I have made the decision to carry on this year and if I continue to get as much enjoyment out of rugby, then why not keep going?

This is my 14th season of championship rugby and I have lived with the possibility of being dropped in every one of those campaigns. If the coaches think you are doing the job, you are in; if you're not, you're out and that's the way it should be.

Two years ago I was also on the replacements' bench for the Italy game and sitting alongside me were Jonno, Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson. You had four England captains who couldn't get in the starting line-up!

No one is guaranteed anything at this level and we have seen that with Backy's omission.

Knowing Backy as I do, I have no doubt he will figure in the squad during this championship because he loves a challenge and trying to get back into the side will fire him up.

You know, as a player, that the time to call it a day is coming - albeit in one or two seasons' time. I am the only one who can decide when it's right to slow down and spend more time with Sandra and the family, but it definitely won't be this season.

The World Cup was a huge high and a natural point to think about the future and I realised I still wanted to get up each morning and train.

It will be time to quit the moment I don't want to get my body out of bed for that early weights session - followed by the run-out, team meeting, lunch, another run-out and then, probably, more team meetings. That is the kind of schedule that you follow, particularly at international level, and you have to be totally committed.

I may sit down and think about what I want to do next season because I am in the last year of my contract with Harlequins and I need to decide if I want a couple more seasons. People have been ringing up saying, "Hey, Jase, you're going to be thinking about the Lions in 2005 and the next World Cup in 2007", but I know I won't be around for those trips. …

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