Chris Paterson quits Scotland 'at the highest level'

Scotland's record cap holder and points scorer Chris Paterson says a desire to quit while at his peak is his reason for retiring from international rugby.

"I've always said I wanted to bow out at the highest level of the game, while I still had the ability to go on," said the 33-year-old from Galashiels.

"My biggest fear would be devaluing what I have achieved and devaluing the jersey.

"You have to stop at some point and this is the right time for me."

Paterson amassed 809 points from 109 international appearances.

He told BBC Scotland: "My thought was to retire at the World Cup but having got to a fourth World Cup and to have played reasonably well - that last game against England in Auckland was something special - I thought I could have gone on to the Six Nations.

"But having time to think and time to discuss it with my family, it has to end at some point, which is the sad reality.

"And to be in control of that and to be happy with the decision was important to me.

"It's a difficult decision to make but, when you know it is the right one, it makes it a lot easier.

"I can sit back and celebrate a career that I've had a fantastic time with."

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson praised the player's "constant desire" to improve and described coaching him as a "delight".

He said: "What a fantastic career Chris has had for Scotland.

"He should be celebrated as one of Scotland's greatest ever internationalists.

"I respect his decision and thank him for all he has done. Having coached against him, he was a player I always earmarked as a real threat."

Paterson scored 22 tries, kicked 90 conversions, landed three drop-goals and kicked 170 penalties in a long and distinguished international career.

He made his Scotland debut against Spain at the 1999 World Cup and his last outing came against England at this year's World Cup in New Zealand  .

Paterson, who has been deployed at full-back, wing and stand-off by a succession of managers, was the youngest Scot to earn 50 caps, against South Africa in 2004.

Chris Paterson's Scotland record

  • Games: 109
  • Tries: 22
  • Conversions: 90
  • Penalties: 170
  • Drop goals: 3
  • Points: 809

He became the only Scotland player to win 100 caps  in the Six Nations match against Wales in 2010.

What should have been a glorious occasion ended prematurely - and painfully - with Paterson suffering a split kidney which forced him to miss the rest of the season.

Paterson, who captained Scotland on 12 occasions, became only the fifth player to score more than 400 points in the history of the Five/Six Nations during last year's competition.

He played in all four of Scotland's games at this year's World Cup, taking his tally to 15 appearances in four tournaments - another Scottish record.

Following defeat by England in Auckland, Paterson said he hoped to carry on representing his country  .

However, a hip injury has restricted his kicking contribution this season for Edinburgh, for whom he signed a two-year contract in early 2010  .

Paterson will officially announce his retirement from the international game at a news conference later on Wednesday.

Extended highlights - Paterson's Scotland beat Italy in 2011 Six Nations