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Simpson-Daniel retires

Former England winger James Simpson-Daniel has announced his retirement because of an ankle injury, Gloucester Rugby confirmed on Tuesday.

The 32-year old winger has been sidelined since last November when he sustained the damage during an LV= Cup fixture against Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm.

Simpson-Daniel, capped 10 times by England between 2002 and 2008 in an international career hampered by fitness problems, hopes to now be able to move his life in a new direction after making the most difficult of decisions based on expert medical advice.

"When I was given the diagnosis by the specialist, they were obviously the last words I wanted to hear, but I know that I have given it everything and I can't praise the Gloucester Rugby medical staff highly enough," he said on www.gloucesterrugby.co.uk.

"I don't think it's really sunk in yet to be honest, but I have had a really good trot, I can't have any complaints. It would have been nice to have won more trophies with Gloucester, but I have got so many fantastic memories from my time in the game.

"I have loved every minute of my time with the club, played and worked with so many great people, made so many friends and, of course, played my home games at the best home ground in club rugby, Kingsholm.

"That is what I will miss the most - that roar as you exit the tunnel and run on to the pitch. The Gloucester supporters have always been fantastic to me and I will always be grateful.

"But it is now time to start on a new chapter, I will take my time and consider my options, but, whatever I do, Gloucester Rugby will always be a huge part of my life."

Simpson-Daniel joined Gloucester as a teenager straight from Sedbergh School, and went on to make some 250 starts across 14 seasons, scoring 118 tries.

Gloucester's d irector of rugby David Humphreys paid tribute to the winger's service.

"He was a unique talent. 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," Humphreys said.

"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.

"But his influence on this Gloucester Rugby side will continue to be felt. He's helped to develop and mentor the likes of Jonny May and Charlie Sharples, both international wingers in their own right. And he will have inspired countless others to play the game.

"On behalf of everyone at Gloucester Rugby, I'd like to thank him for everything he's done for the club and wish him all the very best for the future."

Nicknamed ' Sinbad', Simpson-Daniel was popular among his peers.

Chief executive of the Rugby Players' Association Damian Hopley said: "James Simpson-Daniel has been one of the outstanding rugby talents of his generation. There was no finer sight to see than 'Sinbad' in full flow beating defenders seemingly at will with a change of pace and direction.

"Whilst 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.

"A genuine game changer, James lit up every rugby field he has ever graced and leaves behind an attacking legacy at Kingsholm that will be the benchmark for future generations to match.

"On behalf of all RPA members, I would like to thank James for his unique contribution to English rugby and wish him the very best of luck in his retirement."

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