Ed Slater says he will “meet this challenge head-on” after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
The 33-year-old Gloucester lock announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect on Thursday.
Gloucester set up a JustGiving page to raise £20,000 for Slater and his family. That target was passed within hours of its launch and on Friday afternoon stood at just under £44,000.
Slater, who featured in a number of England squads and represented England Saxons, joined Gloucester in 2017 following seven years with Leicester, where he served as club captain.
“I want to say Thank You to everyone for all your messages of support and generosity,” he said, on Twitter.
“It gives me and my family a huge amount of strength in a time of sadness for us.
“I will meet this challenge head-on. Ultimately I can’t win but I will fight with everything. Hope is not lost.
“I also want to add a thank you to @JillADouglas and @MNDoddie5 who have been a huge support. I’d also like to thank @mndassoc.
“Both are working to fight this disease for me and all my fellow battlers of MND as well as our loved ones.”
Gloucester have expressed gratitude for support received by the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The foundation was set up by former Scotland and British and Irish Lions lock Doddie Weir, who revealed in June 2017 that he was suffering from MND.
Weir has been driven to help fellow sufferers and seek ways to further research into an, as yet, incurable disease.
Announcing Slater’s diagnosis on Thursday, Gloucester said: “Following six months of testing, Ed’s diagnosis was confirmed last week, and as a result, with the support of his family, friends and Gloucester Rugby, he has made the difficult decision to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
“Everyone at Gloucester Rugby – players, management and staff – are entirely committed to supporting Ed, his wife Jo and his three children in whatever way required.
“We know the same will be true of Gloucester and Leicester fans, and the wider rugby community.”
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