Australia centre Rob Horne has been forced to retire from rugby after suffering a career-ending injury while playing for Northampton Saints.
Horne, who played in the last two World Cups for the Wallabies, was making his 21st appearance for the Saints since arriving at the start of the current Premiership season – a campaign that has seen him score eight tries.
However, in last weekend's clash with Leicester Tigers – a match he captained Northampton in – the 28-year-old suffered nerve damage in his right arm, which has forced his early retirement.
"This is absolutely tragic news, and has been devastating for every member of the squad and staff," said interim Northampton coach Alan Dickens.
"All our thoughts are of course with Rob and his family at this time.
"Rob is not only a world-class rugby player, but he's an exceptional man. He is a hugely respected and popular member of the dressing room and this will be an enormous loss to Saints – both from a rugby and a personal perspective.
"Even though he had only been here for one season, I am sure he was destined to become a club legend and, like everyone, I am deeply saddened that his career has been prematurely ended in this way."
Saints chief executive Mark Darbon added: "Rob will always be part of the Saints family and we will, of course, do everything we can to help him through his rehabilitation.
"Rob has asked me to pass on his deepest gratitude for all of the messages of support, but would now like everyone to respect his privacy while they deal with this news."
News of Horne's tragic blow left fans devastated on social media as tributes rolled in for the rugby star.
Devastating news out of England regarding Wallaby Rob Horne.— Christy Doran (@ChristypDoran) April 21, 2018
The former Wallabies vice-captain, who made the move to Northampton Saints this season, has been forced to retire after nerve damage to right arm.
He played 34 Tests for Australia.
The news of Rob Horne's retirement is truly bloody awful. An uncompromising player on both sides of the ball.— Ali (@alistokesrugby) April 21, 2018
Nerve damage is one of the worst ways to end a career, hoping it has the lowst effect possible on the rest of his life.
Rubbish news. Northampton confirm that Rob Horne has been forced to retire due to nerve damage suffered in his right arm last weekend. Just 28 years of age.— Alex Shaw (@alexshawsport) April 21, 2018
My goodness, Rob Horne forced to retire. Arm injury after 13 seconds at Welford Road last weekend. The terrifying fragility of professional sport. https://t.co/ao7P5hzxgv— Nick Mullins (@andNickMullins) April 21, 2018
We are extremely saddened to read this and, on behalf of all at the Leicester Tigers club, wish Rob the very best at this time.— Leicester Tigers (@LeicesterTigers) April 21, 2018
Cannot get my head round this. Devastated for him, arguably player of the season and expected him to be captain and crucial player next season.— Jamie (@JamieDaventry) April 21, 2018