JOE Cain’s promising rugby career has been cruelly cut short after injury forced him to retire at the age of just 21.
The lock, who grew up in Burton and attended John Taylor High School, has been with Premiership giants Leicester Tigers for the last five years, featuring for their first time as well as for the development team and for loan club Nottingham Rugby.
He had an operation on a troublesome knee injury, and has been having fluid drained from the joint on a weekly basis.
Cain had hoped to return to playing but his doctors ruled the problem was too serious, leading the former Lullington Park cricketer to make a hugely difficult decision.
“I am absolutely gutted that I’ve had to retire from playing,” he told Mail Sport.
“I have been at Tigers for five years, and for five years all I’ve wanted to do is play rugby.
“I kept just hoping it would settle down but it just wouldn’t, and the doctors said it was getting silly.
“I had a few more scans and meeting with doctors and people at Leicester, and decided this was for the best.”
Cain will not mope about his ill-fortune for long though, as he has already decided what he wants to do instead.
“One door closes and another one opens, and I’ve started doing my coaches badges,” he said.
“Leicester have been absolutely brilliant, so supportive, and have helped put me through my course.”
Cain is unlikely to remember his 2013/14 season fondly on a personal level, but admitted that seeing former club Burton RFC promoted to the National League after seeing off rivals Derby in the play-off last weekend was a rare highlight.
“That was absolutely brilliant,” he said.
“I was in Burton on the Saturday night after the game and I saw the boys.
“It is class for the town to beat a city like Derby, and even better to win by such a narrow margin.
“A lot of the lads there are people I went to school with or played with, so it’s brilliant for them.”
Now, Cain is focused on the new chapter in his life, and wants to reach the very top.
“For years I’ve been trying to be the best rugby player I can, now I want to be the best coach I can,” he said.
“I’m doing some coaching with our community organisation and then getting some experience coaching in schools.
“After that, we will see, but I would love to get into pro coaching.
“But it’s one step at a time.”