It is with regret that Gloucester Rugby can today confirm that James Simpson-Daniel has had to retire with immediate effect due to injury.
The 32 year old winger has been sidelined since last November when he suffered an horrific ankle injury in an LV= Cup fixture against Newcastle Falcons at Kingsholm.
Sinbad, as he is affectionately known by all connected with Gloucester Rugby, has battled bravely in an attempt to regain full fitness but has reluctantly been forced to admit defeat.
Despite the desperately disappointing news, Simpson-Daniel preferred to dwell on the positives when he spoke to the club website.
“When I was given the diagnosis by the specialist, they were obviously the last words I wanted to hear. But I know that I’ve given it everything and I can’t praise the Gloucester Rugby medical staff highly enough.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet to be honest. But I’ve 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’ve got so many fantastic memories from my time in the game.
“I’ve 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’s what I’ll 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’ll always be grateful.
“But it’s now time to start on a new chapter, I’ll 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 Rugby as a teenager straight from Sedbergh School, and quickly gave a glimpse of things to come, scoring a try on debut against Rotherham in 2001.
He proceeded to light up grounds all over the country with his dazzling talent, a sensational score for England against the Barbarians when he outfoxed Jonah Lomu living long in the memory.
He won 10 England caps, untimely illness and injury robbing him of what should have been many more appearances for his country, but he will be remembered primarily for wearing the Cherry and White of Gloucester.
Across 14 seasons, he made more Premiership appearances for the club than any other player, scoring 118 tries from 250 starts.
Director of Rugby David Humphreys spoke of his regret at not being able to see Simpson-Daniel in competitive action.
“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.
“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.”