Nick Purewal Comment on Alex Brown: Let the moments of magic help you through the void, Alex
WHEN the mind acclimatises and the shock subsides, Alex, draw on the moments that defined your Kingsholm reign.
When reality dawns and the blur slows, of course you will lament the abrupt and premature end to a glittering career.
But above that, always place those standout matches and the little delights that few others are privileged to share.
Because that will see you through the retirement void, and set you on course for your next career, whatever that may be.
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We at The Citizen urge you to turn to coaching, to exploit your vast lineout and forward-play knowledge, and hone the next generation of second-row talent.
But, of course, only you can make the call that will best suit yourself and your family.
When that urge to play that you cannot fulfil strikes, do not bemoan the rucks you cannot hit, the tackles you cannot make and the lineouts you cannot boss.
Instead, recall those great Kingsholm victories, and that euphoric feeling of exhaustion shared with best mates and peers at the end of a punishing training session.
Decorated England and Gloucester lock Brown could hardly hold off the tears as he explained he would never play rugby again.
Anyone who has ever played the game will sympathise – only those who have enjoyed fruitful careers in rugby will fully understand.
The 33-year-old Cherry and Whites stalwart knows there will be dark days along the road to establishing his next move – but he also appreciates the humility of a career few can equal.
Even just last year, Brown helped Gloucester dispatch money-bags Toulouse 34-24 in one of the greatest Kingsholm nights – of all time – and that's no hyperbole.
When times get tough, he will draw on the memories – and so he should.
"I'll miss everything, it gets me emotional just thinking about it," he explained.
"The whole team camaraderie, the banter with the boys, the day-to-day training, the games, the winning. The whole thing is just an unbelievable experience and a great life experience I'm honoured to have been part of.
"There are games that stick out in my head, the game against Toulouse at Kingsholm last year, and then even some games we lost – the Munster game we lost, even that was fantastic, the crowd were awesome.
"There are so many I've played in that have been great.
"Over time plenty of different little moments and memories will pop into my head, and I'm just privileged to have all that to draw on."
Brown claimed three England caps across a career that has spanned 14 years and 227 Premiership appearances – the sixth-highest in the league's history.
The lineout boss racked up 235 Gloucester bows after former Bristol team-mate Dean Ryan brought him to Kingsholm in 2003, following stints with Bath, Pontypool and home-city club Bristol.
There can have been few greater and shrewder signings over the Kingsholm years.
It speaks volumes that a Bristol man – who attended Colston's Collegiate College – could not only thrive at Kingsholm, but also end up loving the Cherry and Whites and calling the club his own.
Brown will continue to help direct Gloucester's lineout this season, and he hopes to stay involved at the club long-term.
The Cherry and Whites would be mad not to keep him – and there's no doubt they know that.