GLOUCESTER winger James Simpson-Daniel has been forced to retire because of a long-standing ankle injury.
The 32-year-old, who won 10 England caps, had been sidelined since November, 2013 after dislocating and fracturing the joint in his left ankle during the club’s LV= Cup win over Newcastle.
Despite surgery, months of rehab and several further injections and treatments the ankle has failed to recover sufficiently to play top class rugby.
Simpson-Daniel had been offered a new deal for the coming season, which starts for Gloucester with a visit to Northampton Saints on Friday, but he broke down at a training camp in Exeter at the end of last week and has now accepted there can be no return.
Known affectionately as ‘Sinbad’, he spent his entire 14-year career at Kingsholm, making more Premiership appearances for the club than any other player and scoring 118 tries in 272 games.
"When I was given the diagnosis by the specialist, they were obviously the last words I wanted to hear,” he said. “But I know that I've given it everything and I can't praise the Gloucester medical staff highly enough.
"I've had a really good trot, I can't have any complaints."
Simpson-Daniel joined Gloucester as a teenager and scored a try on his first-team debut against Rotherham in 2001.
He won his first England cap a year later but his international career was hindered by injury and illness, as he caught glandular fever and was hit by back, shoulder and ankle problems.
"James was a unique talent,” said Gloucester's new director of rugby David Humphreys – formerly of Ulster and Ireland.
“I played against him and, even though he was an opponent who could really hurt you on the pitch, he was a joy to watch.
“It's a real blow for him and, personally, I'm disappointed that he's had to retire before I had the opportunity to enjoy seeing him play as a colleague.”
Rugby Players' Association chief executive Damian Hopley, a former England player himself, added: "While his catalogue of injuries robbed James of many more England caps, his impact for Gloucester was nothing short of sensational as he proved himself to be one of the most dangerous broken field runners the professional game has ever seen.”
During his time at Gloucester, Simpson-Daniel has become a successful racehorse owner.
He part-owns the 2012 Welsh Grand National winner Monbeg Dude with fellow players Mike Tindall and Nicky Robinson.