TEST centurion Jason Leonard has admitted the prospect of spending a month away from his family during England's summer tour to New Zealand and Australia was the driving force behind his decision to quit international rugby.
Leonard is to exit the international arena at the end of the 2004 RBS 6 Nations championship following a glittering career which has seen him make 114 appear-ances for England and become the world's most capped player.
The 35-year-old prop broke Philippe Sella's record of 111 caps after featuring against France as a replacement during last November's World Cup semi-final.
He made his Test debut in 1990 against Argentina, the first step in an epic journey which includes two World Cup finals, three British Lions tours and 54 Six Nations matches.
But the demands of professional rugby have taken their toll on the old war-horse, forcing him to spend long periods of time away from his partner and three children - the youngest of which, Francesca Belle, was born during last year's World Cup.
"The thought of being in New Zealand and Australia for nearly a month this summer is too much," the Harlequins veteran said.
"It was highlighted for me by the two games in Italy and Scotland at the start of the Six Nations which meant I was only home for one night during the fortnight to see Sandra and the children."
Leonard becomes the third member of England's triumphant World Cup squad to take his leave of the Test arena - he will follow Martin Johnson and Kyran Bracken into international retirement later this month.
"I have had a great career with absolutely no regrets and I am very happy with my decision to quite international rugby after the Six Nations," said Leonard, who has won four Grand Slams, captained England twice and scored one Test try.
"You never really think the end of the line is going to arrive but it has and I am being realistic."
Leonard was dropped for Saturday's 19-13 defeat by Ireland but could earn a swift recall following a poor England performance.
The clash with Wales in 10 days' time may be the setting for Leonard's final Twickenham appearance. England's campaign concludes against France in Paris a week later.