Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus will have to plan for life without experienced Francois Hougaard.

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The Worcester scrum-half is retiring from international rugby after 46 caps, to focus on the Premiership club.

Last month he signed a new contract to keep him at Sixways until 2021, having joined the side in 2016.

Worcester Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons welcomed Hougaard’s decision.

“It is a major boost for us that he has made that decision because it means he won’t be going away for international duty,” Solomons told worcesternews.co.uk.

“Francois had mentioned it (retiring from international rugby) and that’s his decision at the end of the day.

“He will be very focused on Warriors so it will be fantastic that he will be available for us at all times.

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“I think that’s a big positive going into next season.”

Hougaard made his Springbok debut in 2009 and was part of his country’s 2011 Rugby World Cup squad and 2016 Rio Olympics Sevens squad, where he picked up a bronze medal.

Before his move to Sixways, Hougaard spent seven years with the Blue Bulls after beginning his career with Western Province.

Hougaard won back-to-back Super Rugby titles with the Bulls in 2009 and 2010, secured Currie Cup triumph with the Blue Bulls in 2009 and reached four consecutive Vodacom Cup finals – winning the competition in 2008 and 2010. He also spent time with the Southern Kings in 2009.

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“He was contemplating focusing the rest of his career at Worcester.” Solomon added.

“He is very happy here and I know that he is doing a business course as well for life after rugby which you have got to be prepared for.”

The 29-year-old has been an influential figure at Sixways since initially arriving on a short-term deal in February 2016.

Hougaard scored a try on his Warriors debut and helped the side win five of his first six matches at the Club.

He soon signed a permanent deal and became Warriors’ first player to win the Aviva Premiership Player of the Month award after his sensational start to life at Sixways.

The scrum-half has gone on to make 29 appearances for the Club and has produced a string of stand-out performances.

Source: www.worcesternews.co.uk

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