FORMER Wales playmaker James Hook will retire at the end of the season and plans to become a children's author.

The Ospreys fly-half/centre won 81 caps and helped to secure two Grand Slams, three Six Nations titles and played in the 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups.

The 34-year-old started out at the Liberty Stadium and returned after spells with Perpignan and Gloucester.

"It's sad but something I'm really looking forward to. It comes to everyone at some point and now it's time for me," he said.

"I've had lots of highlights, winning Grand Slam titles and Six Nations and going on the Lions tour in 2009.

"Then signing my first professional contract was a big moment for me. Growing up I always aspired to be a professional rugby player.

"You never think it'll actually happen so when it did it really was amazing."

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Hook will finish the season before calling time on his career on his own terms.

"A lot of my close friends at the Ospreys have retired and have had to retire early as well because of injuries," he said.

"The nature of the game now is really physical. You play a game and it takes you three or four days to get over the bumps and bruises.

"I've got a young family. I've got three young boys, and a wife as well, and I want to be able to go in the garden and play and kick a ball about with them.

"I consider myself one of the lucky ones. There is more to life than rugby."

The talented Hook feels that his versatility, and the ability to play 10, midfield and full-back, was a blessing and a curse.

"I probably feel I should have achieved more," he admitted.

"I played in a number of different positions. I started at outside-half, moved to 12, then to 13 and I played 15. That is pretty much the story of my career.

"Perhaps that was a factor. I was probably to blame at times as well by not performing and nailing down certain positions."

Hook started and ended his career at the Ospreys to become their second highest points scorer with 841.

He has written a series of children's books that are due to be published later this year, but he will not be leaving rugby behind entirely and the classy back intends to help future generations.

"I want to stay involved in the game, particularly working on the skills, like I do now with the young kickers and the age-grade sides, and I'm hoping to finish my level three coaching qualification," Hook said.

"It's going to be sad not playing, but you've got to be positive and look on the bright side and I'm looking forward to what's next."