Despite impressive performances, he was not selected for England regularly on the basis that he was too small - at only 5' 10" and 14ish stone. Opponents to this claimed that his low body position helped his tackling, mobility and ability to snaffle the ball on the ground.
He captained England when Martin Johnson was injured. He took over the captaincy of Leicester for the 2003/4 season, but Johnson was reinstated as captain after the coaching coup that saw Dean Richards sacked as coach, and Back given a role as a forwards coach.
He retired after he was dropped from the England team during the 2004 Six Nations, citing that he wanted to spend more time with his family rather than fight for his place in the side.