GLOUCESTER Rugby are sad to announce that after a long battle for fitness, number eight James Forrester has confirmed his retirement from professional rugby.
Regarded as one of the most gifted game-breakers of his generation, renowned for his ability to score long-range tries, Forrester (27) suffered a horrific knee injury in Gloucester colours against Bristol at Ashton Gate in April 2007.
Although he battled back through a series of operations and intensive rehabilitation that included treatment from renowned specialist Bill Knowles in Vermont, who also worked with England's Richard Hill and Dan Ward-Smith, Forrester's comeback stalled when he suffered a breakdown during Gloucester's Guinness A League match against Sale last month.
"I have put everything I have into getting back to fitness and demanded more of myself in this recovery process than I thought possible but it is simply not going to be and I have been forced to make the hardest decision any player will ever have to make," Forrester told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk
"Naturally, I am devastated my career has ended in this way but I have poured every ounce of effort into getting back to fitness for more than 16 months but I now know it's not going to be enough.
"I suffered a set-back after the game against Sale and have undergone another operation. That alone means I would be out for another eight months and it is simply not feasible to continue.
"I have had a wonderful career and have a treasure trove of memories. I have been fortunate to have been involved with Gloucester during one of their most high profile and successful periods in their history and I would like to thank everyone involved at the club for making it such a special place - it will always be with me."
Forrester, who won two England caps, graduated into the Academy set-up at Kingsholm from Bicester Rugby Club alongside his friend and former Gloucester full-back Jon Goodridge.
Following his debut in 2000-1, he made 134 appearances in all competitions and scored 51 tries - including the winner in the 2006 European Challenge Cup final against London Irish at The Stoop. He was renowned for his game-breaking qualities and scored three hat-tricks - two against Bristol at the Memorial Stadium and one against Caerphilly at Kingsholm.
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "When any player's career is cut short through injury it is a tragic waste but even more so in James's case because he was such a prodigious talent.
"It is difficult to put into words just how hard he worked to return to full fitness - it was a testament to his desire to get back into the game after such a bad injury. He has played a massive part in Gloucester's recent history and his place within the club is assured."
Speaking after the game, Charlie Sharples described it as 'the win that has eluded us.' The winger stressed that Gloucester had stayed positive after the first couple of weeks of the Aviva Premiership season and the 26-13 victory over Sale was a result of that focus.
Gloucester Rugby picked up their first win of the new Aviva Premiership season on Friday night, easing to a 26-13 win on the road at Sale Sharks. Director of Rugby David Humphreys was full of praise for his players on the night.
Defence Coach Jonny Bell was on media duties ahead of the Aviva Premiership fixture at Sale Sharks on Friday evening, and spoke about where Gloucester find themselves in terms of their form at the moment as well as how he's viewing their defensive displays so far.
Callum Braley, who skippered Gloucester United to a 22-19 Aviva Premiership A League win over Saracens Storm on Monday evening, paid tribute to his forwards and the younger players in what he described as not the prettiest of wins.
Gloucester Rugby have been rolling back the years, dusting off their old childhood memorabilia and reminiscing about their first grassroots amateur sports clubs in support of this year's Aviva Community Fund.
Tickets for Saturday's Aviva Premiership game against Bath Rugby in both the Stowford Press Terrace and also The Shed are now in short supply, although a number of returns from the visitors have just gone back on sale.
A desperately disappointing afternoon for Gloucester who, despite dominating possession and territory, were guilty of failing to make the most of it against a resolute Newcastle defence before the visitors pounced to snatch the win in the second half.