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France back Fofana retiring from tests after Rugby World Cup

January 24, 2019
FILE - In this Saturday, March 19, 2016 file photo, England's Anthony Watson, right, evades France's Wesley Fofana during their Six Nations international rugby match at the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. France center Wesley Fofana will retire from international rugby after the World Cup later this year, it was announced Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. A powerful, fast center with good hands, the 31-year-old Fofana made his international debut against Italy seven years ago and scored 15 tries in 45 test appearances. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus, file)

MARCOUSSIS, France (AP) — France center Wesley Fofana will retire from international rugby after the World Cup this year.

A powerful, fast center with good hands, the 31-year-old Fofana made his international debut against Italy seven years ago and has 45 caps.

He is in France’s squad for the Six Nations, and in contention to play the tournament opener against Wales at Stade de France next week.

“I’ll try to play in the World Cup, I’ll make the most of it and then afterward I’ll stop, for sure,” Fofana said on Thursday at France’s Marcoussis training camp on the outskirts of Paris. “For me it’s a normal thing. I’m 31, and there are amazing young players coming through, so it’s the right time in my opinion.”

Fofana said the decision was also based on needing to spend more time with his family and committing himself to club side Clermont. Over the summer, he signed a new contract with Clermont until 2023.

“If I was on my own, I wouldn’t ask myself the question. But I’ve signed a long contract with my club. I have my wife, my children,” Fofana said. “I want to experience something powerful until the World Cup and after that I’ll devote myself to my club and my family.”

Two-time finalist France is not considered among the favorites for the World Cup, which takes place in Japan from Sept. 20 to Nov. 2.

At his best, Fofana’s destructive running from deep made him one of the best centers in Europe, and he’s scored 15 tries. But he was held back by injuries.

Fofana is confident “the young players will carry the torch” once he steps down from the national side.

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