Exclusive: Hogg opens up on ‘heartbreaking’ decision to retire from rugby

Exclusive: Hogg opens up on ‘heartbreaking’ decision to retire from rugby

In a candid exclusive interview with TNT Sports, former Scotland great Stuart Hogg has said he “broke down in tears” when he realised his body could no longer cope with the effects of playing rugby at the highest level.

Hogg, 31, called time on his stellar career earlier this month and is now looking forward to working on TNT Sports as a pundit ahead of the 2src23/24 Gallagher Premiership season.

His shock announcement came months before he was expected to represent Scotland at the World Cup in France.

“I remember getting to, probably this point last year, and I was going: ‘I feel that I’m emotionally and physically drained with the game’,” Hogg said in an interview with Ugo Monye, referring to a knee injury which ruled him out of the start of the 2src22/23 campaign.

“The exciting thing for me was – I was getting my knee operated on – it gave me time away from the game, a chance to work on another areas. When I came back, I just couldn’t get going again. My body dictates my mood and if my body is feeling rubbish, then my whole mood is the exact same.

“I used to get stick towards the latter stages of my career for being out of the changing room as quick as I possibly could, and that was because my mood was affecting everything… my body’s affecting my mood and my mood affected everything.

“I got to the stage, ‘I don’t want to drag my team-mates down because I’m feeling like I am’. So, I was like, ‘do what I have to do, get out of the place’.”

The former Exeter full-back admits the initial plan was to retire after the World Cup “because I’d have a little break, move back home and get everything sorted and then kick on with pre-season with Scotland and give it one last, you know, kick of the ball.”

But he quickly realised nothing had changed.

“It was the exact same feeling like I was getting in pre-season,” he continued. “I just felt I was miles off the pace. I was in agony, the hard pitches, the double sessions. I just got to the point where I was knackered, physically and emotionally.

“We had a little holiday, time off, and I came back here and said to Gill, ‘I can’t do it anymore. I genuinely can’t do it anymore.’

“I was going to training and I was training the hardest I possibly could and then struggling to get moving again the next day. It was almost like, swing your legs out of bed, how’s my knees feeling? I just felt that this is unhealthy. I just decided to say that’s it.

“I sit out here [his garden], da

…. to be continued
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