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'I wanted to go out with series win': Whitehead announces international retirement

Raiders forward Elliott Whitehead has confirmed he will retire from international rugby league following England's third and final Test against Tonga at Headingley Stadium in Leeds.

Whitehead will earn the 27th England cap of an international career which saw him debut against New Zealand in 2014, feature in both the 2017 and 2021 Rugby League World Cups, and also represent Great Britain on four occasions.

The Bradford-born back-rower famously prevented Tonga scoring in the dying stages of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-final, forcing Andrew Fifita to knock-on and secure England’s place in that year’s final.

Elliott Whiteheads gets an offload away during the 2022 World Cup.
Elliott Whiteheads gets an offload away during the 2022 World Cup. ©Getty Images

The 34-year-old scored 11 tries for England, including braces in the 2015 and 2018 victories over New Zealand as well as against Samoa and France in last year’s Rugby League World Cup. 

“It has been a privilege to wear the England shirt as many times as I have – it’s the highest honour you can get," Whitehead said of his retirement.

"I have had some really enjoyable moments representing my country, and some not so enjoyable but overall, I am really happy and proud of what I have accomplished on the international stage.

"However, with some fantastic young English players coming through, now feels like the right time for me to step aside and let them take their opportunity.

“I had considered international retirement last year, but I didn’t want to go out on the World Cup semi-final defeat, but now I get to finish my England career with a series victory. 

“I want to say thanks to all of my teammates, coaches and staff who have been involved during my time with England and hopefully I can go out on another win this weekend.”

England v Mate Ma'a Tonga - Game 2

England coach Shaun Wane said it had been a pleasure to coach Whitehead.

“People had always told me how much they thought I would love to coach Elliott Whitehead," Wane said. "When I became England boss I selected him and it immediately became clear to me what they meant.

“Elliott is a born-leader and has shown incredible desire, passion and work ethic every time he has worn the England shirt. He is the very epitome of a ‘Test match player’.

England v Mate Ma'a Tonga - Game 1

“It’s been a genuine pleasure to have Elliott involved with this team during my time in charge and I know how much the younger members of the squad have benefitted from his presence.

“I wish him all the best in his final season at Canberra and hopefully we can get the job done for him this weekend." 

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.