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.
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Lewis Ludlow scored Gloucester's opening try in the 30-50 defeat at Bath on Saturday, part of an impressive performance by the young back row forward. Speaking after the game, he paid tribute to the young Gloucester side who went toe to toe with the Aviva Premiership semi-finalists.
Speaking to the local media after the game, Director of Rugby David Humphreys gave an honest assessment of the game, and expressed his pride in the way his young charges had performed against the title-chasing hosts.
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With Connacht Rugby the visitors to Kingsholm on Sunday (kick off 3:30pm) for Sunday's European Rugby Champions Cup play-off, Gloucester ring the changes from the side that took the field against Bath last weekend.
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Gloucester Rugby held their End of Season Dinner at the Centaur at Cheltenham Racecourse this week. Amongst all the awards, Thinus Delport interviewed James Hook, Laurie Fisher, Charlie Sharples and Billy Twelvetrees.