Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Doug Hocking announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending his 12-year CFL career.

Hocking, 33, chose to leave pro football to become defensive co-ordinator for the Winnipeg Rifles of the Canadian Junior Football League.

The native of Sarnia, Ont., spent four seasons with the CJFL Surrey Rams before joining the B.C. Lions in 1991.

"The time is right," Hocking said in a statement.

"My body is 100 per cent, but it takes longer to recover. I'm not leaving football.

"I'm doing a different job in football. I played for 12 years and won a championship.

"I feel really good about what I've done."

Hocking played in 178 CFL regular-season games, nine playoff games and the 2001 Grey Cup.

Last year, he appeared in 17 of Winnipeg's 18 regular-season games as well as the West Division semifinal and final.

"Winnipeg was the best place to play," Hocking said. "The fans here are great.

"That's why I've stayed here and that's why I've made Winnipeg home."

"Doug was a pleasure to coach," added Blue Bombers head coach Dave Ritchie, who coached Hocking for six years -- four with Winnipeg and two in B.C.

"He's a guy you can always depend upon. He will make a good coach."

Asked about coaching in the CJFL, Hocking said: "That's going to be an excellent challenge. I'm excited about staying involved in the sport by implementing systems, making game plans and teaching young players.

"I'm working at the grassroots level. I came out of junior football and I'm going back to junior football.

"It's going to be great to help build a program with the Rifles and watch the team develop."