Rob Horne: Northampton Saints and Australia centre forced to retire

Rob Horne
Rob Horne made 21 appearances for Northampton Saints, scoring eight tries

Northampton and Australia centre Rob Horne has been forced to retire after suffering life-changing nerve damage to his right arm during his side's Premiership match at Leicester.

The 28-year-old was injured 13 seconds into the East Midlands derby at Welford Road on 14 April, which Saints won.

Horne joined Saints in 2017 and had been captaining them for the first time.

Interim head coach Alan Dickens said: "This is absolutely tragic news."

He added: "It has been devastating for every member of the squad and staff here.

"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."

Northampton chief executive Mark Darbon said the news had shaken everyone at the club, adding: "On behalf of the club I would like to thank all the medical staff who have helped Rob so far, in particular the diligence and professionalism shown by the Saints and Tigers medical teams, who reacted quickly and could not have done more for him from the moment his injury was sustained."

Horne, who appeared in two World Cups and played against the British and Irish Lions during their tour of 2013, last appeared for Australia in June 2017.

Formerly of Super Rugby side Waratahs, Horne won 34 Test caps for the Wallabies after making his debut in 2010.

"After undergoing tests, leading neurological consultants from The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (Stanmore) confirmed that Horne has suffered career-ending nerve damage to his right arm," said a Northampton statement.

'Horne faces an everyday battle'

Analysis from BBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter Chris Jones

This news has had a profound effect on the Saints squad, for whom Horne is a much-loved and highly respected figure.

Horne has now left hospital, but faces an everyday battle going forward without feeling in his right arm.

It's a sobering story, and a brutal reminder of the precarious and dangerous nature of top-level rugby.

The whole sport now has a responsibility to help Horne and his family in any way possible during this incredibly difficult time.

Analysis from ex-Northampton and England full-back Ian Hunter

I think the focus for Rob probably should be more towards getting himself better, for himself and his family. He's 28 so has the rest of his life in front of him.

It's a tough one and I feel for him but I think it's only after you've retired from rugby, as time goes on, that you realise there is a bigger world out there.

It just seemed so innocuous - it was literally straight from kick-off - and at first we thought it was a head injury. I don't think anyone knew the extent of what it was, so the news comes as a real shock.

Rob's probably epitomised what the Saints have lacked actually. I thought he had Saints captain written all over him and would've played a key role in the rebuild.

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