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Page last updated at 08:55 GMT, Thursday, 8 July 2010 09:55 UK

Injury forces Leicester scrum-half Harry Ellis to quit

Harry Ellis

Ellis scores against Italy in 2009

Leicester and England scrum-half Harry Ellis has been forced to retire at the age of 28 because of a succession of knee problems.

He had a reconstruction of his left knee in 2007 before suffering a second injury in the same area last season.

"All last season I was taking a hell of a lot of painkillers and I was constantly having blood and fluid drained from my knee," said Ellis.

"I have had so many operations on my knee I knew it was time to retire."

England manager Martin Johnson, a team-mate of Ellis with Leicester and England, said: "Harry has been an excellent player who always gave everything for Leicester Tigers and England.

"From the first time he was involved it was obvious to everyone in the Tigers squad that he was a special talent and that he'd make a big impact.

"I'm sure that if he'd been fit Harry would have continued to make a huge contribution to his club and country for many years to come. On behalf of the England squad I'd like to wish Harry all the best for the future."

I physically could not do it any more because the demands of the game are so great

Harry Ellis

Ellis, a product of the Tigers academy, consulted highly-respected orthopaedic surgeon Andy Williams before making his decision.

"I was gutted and really upset when I found out and it took a while to get used to," Ellis, who won 27 international caps, told the Leicester Mercury .

"It took a lot of soul-searching to decide to retire but when someone like Andy Williams says you should call it a day, you have to take his advice.

"It was a very hard decision to make, but it was also easy on the basis of what it had been doing to me.

"As well as my rugby, there was also my health to think about. The amount of painkillers I was taking every day was causing my stomach real problems."


Leicester head coach Richard Cockerill said: "Harry is a local lad who made a big impression when he first broke into the Tigers team as a teenager.

"He has always had a great strength of character and was afraid of nothing when he wore a Tigers shirt.

"It's always a sad day when injury ends the career of any player, and Harry has been a valuable and popular member of the squad here for almost 10 years.

"We wish him well in whatever the future may hold for him and thank him for his service to the club."

Ellis was sidelined for 10 months after rupturing anterior cruciate ligaments in 2007 and made just 24 of his 173 Leicester appearances in the three years since.

Ellis was capped on last year's Lions tour to South Africa but his progress was halted by another injury to the same knee last season.

"After the knee reconstruction, it was always hard to get back to the levels of fitness that I wanted to be at. But then there was a new injury," he said.

"I have a history of problems with that knee and it got almost impossible to play on. I was battling through the pain barrier all the time. It was even affecting me when I wasn't playing.

"I physically could not do it any more because the demands of the game are so great."

Ellis made his first-team debut for the Tigers in 2001 and his England debut against South Africa in 2004 at the age of 22.

He suffered his injury in May 2007, playing against Bristol in a Guinness Premiership semi-final play-off, which led to him missing the Premiership and Heineken Cup finals and the World Cup later that year.

He scored five tries for England and his last appearance was in the 26-12 win over Scotland at Twickenham in March 2009.

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see also
Ellis not giving up on Test spot
24 Jun 09 |  Rugby Union
Ellis to make return with Saxons
21 Jan 09 |  English
Ellis banned over Carter tackle
19 Dec 08 |  Leicester
Ellis set to make Tigers return
30 Sep 08 |  Leicester
Injured Ellis will miss World Cup
14 May 07 |  English

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