Stephen Moore has announced he will step down as captain of Australia immediately and retire from international rugby at the end of the year.

Moore played his 120th Test match for the Wallabies against Italy last month to become the 10th most capped international of all time.

The retirement announcement came initially from Wallabies officials on Thursday, with Moore then explaining why he is calling it a day at the highest level.

The 34-year-old will play one more Super Rugby season with his club the Queensland Reds before hanging up his boots completely.

“It has been a big part of my life and it means a lot to me playing for Australia,” Moore told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I felt it is the right time to finish the year strongly and then let the next crop of players take the team forward.”

Moore, who has played in three World Cups since making his Test debut in 2005, explained the decision had been “very, very tough”.

He added on “I think the commitment required to be the best and to be perform at the highest level is huge.

“I just didn’t think I could do that ongoing for another two years leading up to that World Cup.”

Tatafu Polota-Nau is a possible successor at hooker, having started there when Moore was dropped to the bench for matches against Fiji and Scotland in June.

Australian flanker Michael Hooper is a strong favourite to take over as captain.