GLOUCESTER number eight Adam Balding will undergo an operation on his Achilles next Thursday that will rule him out for the rest of the season.
The 27-year-old England A international has a tear in his Achilles and is expected to be out of action for around three months.
"Naturally I am devastated," Balding told www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk "I had fought really hard to push my claims for selection this season and felt I was really starting to run into form.
"We have some outstanding players at the club in the back row positions so you really have to earn the right to be in the side and felt I was doing that - this has just come at totally the wrong time for me and the club.
"But once I have had the operation I will start my recovery work and my aim is to come back fitter and stronger than before. We are very close to achieving something special at the club and I will be right behind the team for the remainder of the season."
Balding signed from Leicester three years ago and has made 57 appearances in all competitions with four tries.
This season he made 11 appearances in all competitions and his last start was against Sale last month.
"Adam has battled his way back into contention in the side but had played three great games in a row and would have been involved last weekend," said head coach Dean Ryan.
"He has really come into form and the premature end to his season is very disappointing for all involved because he was playing really well.
"We wish him well in his recovery following his operation."
There will be two stages to Balding's operation. He will have damage cleared away from his ankle and his Achilles tidied up at the same time.
Henry Purdy, a first half replacement for Charlie Sharples, was amongst the try scorers in the 64-19 victory over Aviron Bayonnais on Saturday evening and told GRTV that it was a professional performance, one the team are happy with.
Gloucester's win in Treviso last week means that they need a bonus point win against Bayonne on Saturday evening to secure a home quarter-final (kick off 8pm), but Tim Taylor wants the team to focus on the performance first and foremost.
Billy Burns and Man of the Match Richard Hibbard spoke to GRTV after the 41-0 win in Treviso, on a day when preparations weren't ideal. They felt the team's attitude was key and also praised the travelling support.
Following the conclusion of the Stade Francais vs Harlequins game today, round six is complete and the quarter-finalists in the European Rugby Challenge Cup are now known with Gloucester set to welcome the Cardiff Blues to Kingsholm.
Knowing a bonus point win would secure a home quarter-final, Gloucester completed their European mission in some style on Saturday evening, sweeping aside a spirited but outgunned Aviron Bayonnais scoring 10 tries on their way to a 64-19 victory.