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."
It's the first Gloucester-Bristol derby at Kingsholm in over eight years this Saturday (kick off 4:30pm) and, previewing the game with the local media this week, Defence Coach Jonny Bell stressed that, with both teams in the bottom half of the table, they both need the points.
Speaking to the local media this week, Gloucester front rower John Afoa knows the challenge ahead this week against Bristol, and calls on the Cherry and Whites to make the most of home advantage as a determined squad look to bounce back from a narrow loss to Saracens.
Tom Savage speaks to GRTV and the local media as Gloucester went down by 24-20 at Saracens on Sunday afternoon. The second row was disappointed with the result, despite a strong showing from the hosts.
Speaking immediately after the game, skipper Willi Heinz thought that Gloucester had executed their game plan reasonably well and competed hard against Saracens. However, it wasn't enough but the squad will have plenty to work on this week ahead of the derby match against Bristol.
Gloucester may be coming off their best win of the season, the 38-16 victory over Wasps last weekend, but Director of Rugby David Humphreys admits that Sunday's trip to Saracens is an even tougher test.
After a series of contract announcements last week, hooker Richard Hibbard is the latest Gloucester Rugby player to commit to a new contract at the club and told GRTV how much he enjoys playing in the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
A try scorer in the 36-18 Aviva Premiership win over Wasps at Kingsholm on Saturday, Charlie Sharples admitted that Gloucester would enjoy the moment but can't get too carried away. The team got what they deserved but the winger wants these performances to be more frequent.
England Head Coach Eddie Jones has made two changes to his side to play Australia in Saturday's final match of the Old Mutual Wealth Series at Twickenham Stadium (kick-off 2.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2). Jonny May lines up on the left wing.