Seven new faces were inducted into the Premiership Rugby Hall of Fame on Wednesday evening and, a year to the day since James Simpson-Daniel hung up his boots, the former Gloucester man was overwhelmed at his inclusion.
World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson, Josh Lewsey, Lawrence Dallaglio, Simon Shaw and Phil Vickery, rubbed shoulders with fellow inductees former Leicester Tigers chief executive Peter Wheeler and Simpson-Daniel at London’s Honourable Artillery Company.
As well as marking their fine contributions to Premiership Rugby the Hall of Fame raised thousands of pounds for Sport Relief and Restart Rugby.
And Simpson-Daniel said: “It’s fantastic to be here.
“My career has been built around Premiership Rugby and what I’ve done at Gloucester – the loyalty they’ve given to me and I’ve given them back in return. And Premiership Rugby has been what my career has been all about, so it’s fantastic to have been a part of tonight.
“It’s a year to the day since I retired. I miss it every single time there is a game of rugby on, that’s natural.
“Some people might take it harder than others, I took it tough for the first few months but I’m in a good place now.
“My body, apart from my ankle, and my mind wanted to play on for two more years. But I was very lucky to have played a lot of games of rugby for Gloucester and a few for England, but it’s natural I miss it.”
Simpson-Daniel has replaced the adrenaline buzz of turning out for the Cherry & Whites with a PR role for bespoke bookmaking firm Fitzdares.
But he admits to still keeping an eye on events at Kingsholm Stadium.
And, with Gloucester not being hit as hard by the World Cup as some of their Premiership Rugby rivals, Simpson-Daniel hopes his former employers can strike early in a bid to improve on last term’s ninth-place finish.
“Gloucester need to try and capitalise while guys are away on World Cup duty,” he added.
“We are not being punished very hard, we have a few guys away. I think the Gloucester squad need to pounce, win some early games and get in the top-half of the table.
“When the players then return elsewhere, an early boost could keep us around the top six come the end of the season, which would be a success.”