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Sale forward Phillips retires as a result of 'serious' pre-season incident

By Kim Ekin
James Phillips and Jean-Luc du Preez of Sale celebrate (Dan Mullan, Getty)

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Sale Sharks have confirmed that forward James Phillips has retired on medical advice following a serious injury sustained in a pre-season game in September.

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The 34-year-old suffered a double fracture of his jaw in the game against Benetton Treviso.

“He underwent an operation the next day but suffered from headaches and dizziness in the weeks that followed. And after further scans and consultations with experts as well as Sale Sharks medical staff, the former Bristol and Exeter man has called time on a professional rugby career that has seen him play almost 300 games.”

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James said: “I’m absolutely gutted to be honest that my career has been cut short, but I’ve known for a little while that this was likely to be the end.

“I can’t remember too much about the incident in the Treviso game but I’ve watched it back since. I got my head in the wrong place in a tackle and took a knee to the jaw.

“After the operation, I thought I’d be back playing within four or five weeks but then I started getting headaches and feeling dizzy and groggy all the time. I had some scans and tests and it was clear that it was more serious than we thought at first.

“It’s hard to take but I’ve loved every minute of my time at Sale Sharks. The coaches, the players and the staff at the club have made me feel so welcome and the supporters have always been brilliant with me.

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“The last few months have been really difficult for me but I’ve had fantastic support from the club, but more importantly from my wife and my two girls. I don’t know how I’d have got through it without them so I want to say a big thank you.”

Nicknamed ‘Philsy’, the six foot four back five forward started his career at Bristol, making his debut against Sharks in the 2007/08 season before moving to Exeter Chiefs and then Bath, before settling at Sale on an initial two-year deal in March 2018, which was followed by an extension.

A club stalwart, he made a remarkable 26 appearances in all competitions last season for Sale.

“James is a fantastic player, but more importantly, he’s really honest, genuine guy who is so well loved by everyone at the club,” said Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson. “He’s not been able to train at all over the past few months but he’s still been down at Carrington regularly and you can see how popular he is with the players.

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“He’s a converted northerner and I know that despite his playing career being cut short, he’s got so much still to give to the game as a coach.

“I genuinely hope that he’ll be one of those people who will be part of the Sharks family for life. We’ve loved working with him and wish him all the very best for the future.”

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