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."
Gareth Evans was a first half replacement for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, but the back rower's impressive carrying kept the hosts on the front foot when they needed it most to snatch a dramatic comeback win.
After his last ditch try clinched the 42-40 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle at Kingsholm on Saturday, Billy Burns told GRTV that all the Gloucester team deserve credit for hanging in there against a Falcons team who really made life tough for the Cherry and Whites.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.