Cumbrian rugby union star Mark Wilson, who played 23 times for England, has announced his retirement at 32.

The Newcastle Falcons captain said a knee injury had prompted him to make the difficult decision.

Wilson, from Kendal, started his career with Penrith before reaching the top of the game in England.

His career included an outing in the 2019 World Cup final defeat against South Africa.

Wilson said it had been an "incredibly hard decision" but it was the right one "for me and my family right now".

He added: "My injury has made me re-assess where I’m at from a career point of view.

“That has been in the background and been in my thoughts quite a lot, and whilst it hasn’t been the case that the injury has physically ended my career in its own right, it’s certainly been one of the main things which has added to my decision.”

Wilson came through Newcastle's academy and made 237 appearances for the Falcons, scoring 42 tries.

His England outings, meanwhile, included one try against Japan in 2018. He last played for his country against Ireland in last season's Six Nations.

He underwent knee surgery last September and recently returned to club action.

Wilson added: "I've been involved with the Falcons since I was a 14-year-old coming over from Kendal for academy training, and I've got some amazing memories.

"You never really know how you're going to end your career, but for me, this is my time to call it a day."

He paid tribute to team-mates, supporters and his family - reserving special thanks for his wife Amy, and children Ella and Zach.

"I'm excited for what's next for us as a family," he added.

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards said: "We're all gutted and disappointed that Mark is retiring from rugby, but he has made a massive contribution to this club.

"He epitomises what we are about as someone who has come through our academy system, and can look back and be proud about what was a fantastic career.

"I'm sure I speak for everybody associated with the Falcons when I say a heartfelt thank you for everything he has given us during his time here.

"Mark is a team man who has put his body on the line time and time again, he embodies our homegrown philosophy and we all felt an enormous sense of pride when he went on to do so well on the international stage.

"He has inspired so many local youngsters by coming through our academy and reaching such heights, and I'm sure he won't be a stranger around the place."

Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi added: “Mark typifies what it means to be a Newcastle Falcon, as someone who has come through our academy and gone on to achieve everything he has.

“He always put the team above personal gain, he has been an incredible player and leader here for well over a decade and it gave us a huge amount of pride to see a homegrown talent recognised on the international stage when he was called up by England.

“I want to personally thank him for everything he has contributed to the club, and to rugby in our region. He will rightly be regarded as a Newcastle Falcons great who is always welcome here, and he will be an inspiration to the many talented young players currently in our academy system.

“We’ve got a wealth of highly-promising players working their way up our pathway which leaves us in great health for the future, and that’s thanks in no small part to the example Mark has given them.”