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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 March 2007, 08:04 GMT 09:04 UK
Injured Perry ends playing career
Matt Perry
Perry made his debut for England against Australia in 1997
England's most capped full-back Matt Perry has been forced to retire from the game because of injury.

The 30-year-old, who is Bath's longest serving player, has a bulging disc in his back which prevents him from reaching full fitness.

"I can only operate at about 75% and these days you have to be 100% or you have got no chance," he said.

"The bulging disc affects the nerves, which then affect the muscles down my left leg especially."

Perry made his debut for Bath against Northampton in 1995 and went onto start 205 games for the club, scoring 561 points.

He made his England debut against Australia in 1997, which was Sir Clive Woodward's first match in charge of the national side.

Perry, who won 36 caps for his country in total, travelled to the World Cup in 1999 and was also selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia in 2001, playing a part in all three Tests.

Matt Perry
Perry made his debut for England against Australia in 1997

But he has suffered a succession of injuries over the last few years and last played for his club in December against Harlequins.

"I was lucky to be involved with a Bath team that was still in the amateur era when I started, so I have seen both sides, which gives me a broad experience of what rugby means," added Perry.

"I am very lucky and very proud to have done what I have.

"I have been lucky to be in certain situations and to get opportunities, but with that you have to work hard and have a strong mentality to stay there. So I am proud of that.

"I would like to say thank you to the fans for their immense support, and to the club as a whole - the ethos of Bath is as strong as ever."

Perry will now take up a role with a consultancy firm near Bath, and his contribution over the last 12 years has been hailed by former club and international head coach Jack Rowell.

"Matt was a gifted footballer with the underlying character which has allowed him to deliver successfully both on the club and international field," said Rowell.

"He was utterly reliable and therefore a good team player both on and off the field."

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