GLOUCESTER'S Samoan centre Terry Fanolua has targeted a return to first team action in time for the start of the Guinness Premiership after undergoing surgery to correct cartilage damage to his knee.
The powerfully constructed midfield man picked up the problem to his right knee during the final stages of his summer involvement with the Samoan national squad.
He flew back from Auckland on Monday and immediately underwent a scan and arthroscopy at a London hospital that revealed the extent of the damage and means he will miss the remainder of Gloucester's pre-season campaign against Calvisano, Doncaster and Viadana.
Gloucester's record Premiership appearance holder and try-scorer Fanolua has scored 34 tries in 142 matches since his debut in 1997, and has played in every position in the backline apart from scrum-half, and should be back in training in a month and hopes to be in action again when Gloucester travel to Worcester on September 4.
Talking to www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk head coach Dean Ryan said: "There is nothing structurally wrong or anything like that but it is a problem that needed addressing.
"He will undergo three of four weeks rehabilitation and at this stage we hope he will be available for the first Premiership game of the season.
"He had a little bit of a tear but it needed sorting out. It's not serious and he should be training again soon which is important because he is a very important member of our squad."
Fanolua was an ever present in the Gloucester side last season until a restrictive back injury reduced his effectiveness at the end of the campaign.
But he came off the bench in the Zurich Premiership Wildcard final against Saracens and produced an outstanding performance in a losing cause.
"The summer has certainly not been a holiday for me but we achieved what we wanted and that was to qualify for the World Cup," he said. "The good thing about the operation is that I can get a bit of a break because I played a lot of games in a short space of time.
"I have already started my rehab and if all goes well with the injury I can start doing some upper-body strength work in the gym by the end of the week and hopefully next week get back on the bike.
"It's not a major injury but I just needed to have it done."
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.
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.
Looking to try a new sport? Look no further than Walking Rugby as thanks to Gloucester Rugby you can come along and try out the fast-growing sport at taster sessions across the county, starting this Wednesday.
Gloucester return to European Rugby Challenge Cup action on Thursday evening with the visit of Stade Rochelais to Kingsholm (kick off 7:45pm). Early Bird ticket prices are available until 6:30pm on matchday.
Talk about a game of two halves. Things looked grim on Saturday as Gloucester trailed 0-6 to Bristol at half-time. However, Matt Scott's eighth try of the season got Gloucester off and running, and the visitors fell apart as the Cherry and Whites eased to a 26-18 bonus point Aviva Premiership win.