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."
Tom Marshall scored his first Gloucester try in the 31-23 win over Saracens on Friday evening and was named Man of the Match. Talking to GRTV, he praised the forwards for setting the tone on the night.
Matt Scott was on media duty this week, and the Scottish international spoke about the benefit of having a full week of training with his club mates and the determination to get back to performing well against Saracens this Friday evening.
After the disappointment of last weekend's performance at Leicester, Director of Rugby David Humphreys told GRTV that he expects a big response from Gloucester in Friday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Saracens (kick off 7:45pm).
Gloucester travel to Tigers this Saturday in good spirits, and fly half Billy Burns is looking forward to testing himself in one of the toughest environments in the league as the Cherry and White hunt vital points as attention returns to the Aviva Premiership
After a good run of recent results, Gloucester will travel to take on Leicester in a good frame of mind according to Director of Rugby David Humphreys, but are well aware of the challenge that lies in wait.
Gloucester Rugby continues to strengthen its commitment to working across Gloucestershire and the surrounding area and is looking to recruit an enthusiastic, motivated and dedicated individual to the role of Wheelchair Rugby Coach
Wales have named their side to face Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. They make just one change as George North returns in place of Alex Cuthbert and Gloucester's Ross Moriarty starts again at number eight.
Sunday saw Gloucester Rugby host the Land Rover Cup at Dean Close School in Cheltenham, and it was Tewkesbury and Old Pats who will represent the club at Twickenham in the U11s and U12s categories respectively.