GLOUCESTER and England centre Leon Lloyd has today announced that a knee injury has ended his rugby union career.
The 30-year-old, who moved to Gloucester last year from the Leicester Tigers, suffered serious bone cartilage damage in his left knee while playing against the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup in January.
In March, still plagued by the same injury, he was forced to limp off against Sale and has not played since. Yesterday top Harley Street knee specialist Andy Williams advised Lloyd that the injury was career-ending. Lloyd, who won five caps for England, announced his retirement today.
He said: "I am distraught. It was only yesterday that I found out that it was all over so it hasn't really sunk in yet."
He has been at Kingsholm for one year, having signed a two-year contract. In that time he has played eight games for Gloucester, scoring five tries.
Lloyd, a married father of two, said: "Although I'm bitterly disappointed I think I'll look back on my career and feel incredibly fortunate to have played alongside some truly great players.
"I won 12 trophies at Leicester. There was a five-year period when we won everything there was to win, we were the Manchester United of rugby, and I count myself very lucky to have been a part of that."
Lloyd scored 90 tries in his 269 games for the Tigers. He has two tries to his name in and England shirt.
He added: "I want to express my thanks to Gloucester for all the care and support the club has given me and for the help they have pledged to keep giving me."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Leon is a fantastic professional - a model for anyone wanting to reach the top in the sport - and I thank him for the contribution he made to the squad last season.
"There are very few players who have achieved what Leon has during his career and we are as disappointed and upset as he is that his career has ended in this fashion. On behalf of the club, I would like to wish Leon every success for the future."
Speaking with the local media before the Gloucester team set off on the long trip north to Newcastle, Director of Rugby David Humphreys discussed his team selection and stated that Friday night's meeting will be a challenging one.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, Matt Kvesic was looking forward to the trip to Newcastle Falcons, and the captain is looking to lead from the front with plenty for the Cherry and Whites to work on.
Gloucester saw a 12-0 lead overturned by Harlequins on Friday night as the visitors ran out 22-15 winners. After the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke about missed opportunities on the night.
Speaking to the local media on Thursday, James Hudson explained his excitement for tonight's game with Harlequins and that he is backing the Cherry and White squad to impress during the next set of Aviva Premiership games.
Despite a dream start at Kingston Park, scoring a try after just 26 seconds, Gloucester couldn't capitalise against a dogged Newcastle Falcons side. Too many penalties were conceded and too many errors made as the Falcons prevailed 20-10.
There are three changes to Gloucester Rugby's starting line-up for Friday evening's Aviva Premiership fixture away at Newcastle Falcons. Steve McColl will make his first Premiership start for the club.