TERRY FANOLUA, the man who has made more appearances than any other player in Premiership history for Gloucester Rugby, has opted not to take up the final year of his contract next season.
Gloucester's leading try-scorer with 38, will leave the Kingsholm club at the end of the season following nine years' service after agreeing with head coach Dean Ryan he would not see out the final year of his current deal.
Fanolua (31) joined Gloucester in 1997 as one of the first overseas players in the Premiership alongside Philippe Saint-Andre and Richard Tombs.
He has since gone on to cultivate hero status at the club he has served with total dedication and utter distinction and following his debut against Bristol almost a decade ago, he has made more than 200 appearances for the club in all competitions.
Gloucester's final Guinness Premiership home game of the season against Wasps on May 6 will now be dedicated to Fanolua and be named 'Fanolua's Farewell.'
"The decision has been taken for myself and for my family," Fanolua told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "Naturally, I would have loved to have stayed at the club but the final year option on my contract was just not viable for me to do so.
"I will be desperately disappointed to leave - I have spent the majority of my adult life playing for Gloucester - but this decision is the best in the long-term for me and my family.
"I have other options I am pursing at the present time but they are not likely to be in the Premiership - I couldn't imagine playing against Gloucester because I put my heart and soul into the club.
"Gloucester is my home away from home. I have met loads of great people and made really good friends and it will be very hard to leave them."
Dean Ryan, Gloucester's head coach, added: "Terry is, quite rightly, one of the biggest and most respected names in the Premiership - not just at Gloucester.
"His record is simply phenomenal and there have not been many more influential individuals at the club in the last decade. The decision will provide an opportunity for the youngsters we have in both Jack Adams and Anthony Allen to follow in Terry's footsteps."
Fly-half Billy Burns was named Man of the Match after the 35-14 European Rugby Challenge Cup victory over Stade Rochelais on Thursday evening, and was full of praise for all his team mates for the win after a short turnaround.
Gloucester have been in good form in recent weeks, but Backs Coach Tim Taylor knows that the Cherry and Whites will have to be at their best on Thursday evening (kick off 7:45pm) against a Stade Rochelais side flying high this season.
Speaking to GRTV after the bonus point win over Bristol, back row Lewis Ludlow revealed that despite a tricky first half, Gloucester backed their skills to come through, a faith that was evident in a strong second half showing.
Willi Heinz scored Gloucester's second try as the Cherry and Whites overturned a disappointing first 40 minutes and 0-6 half time deficit, to earn a 26-18 Aviva Premiership victory over Bristol Rugby on Saturday.
Gloucester's much changed side had to overcome conceding an early try on Thursday evening, but responded in style to down Stade Rochelais by 35 points to 14 in the European Rugby Challenge Cup and set up a mouthwatering return fixture next weekend.
After taking 11 points from their last three games in the Aviva Premiership, including bonus point wins against Wasps and Bristol, Gloucester will be looking to continue their good form when they welcome La Rochelle to Kingsholm.