Fraser forced to retire
Fraser forced to retireSHARE
The 27-year old has been forced to call time on his playing career on medical grounds due to a neck injury, having made 83 appearances for his beloved Saracens – the club where he has spent his entire career since he was 14-years old.
Fraser helped the Men in Black to a historic double in 2016, with his inspirational performances in the club’s Champions Cup and Premiership campaigns an abiding memory of a historic year for the north Londoners.
As part of the club’s famed Class of ’08 Academy which included current Saracens stars Owen Farrell, Jamie George, George Kruis and Jackson Wray, Fraser played a key role in helping transform their fortunes from Premiership also-rans to double European champions as part of the homegrown core of players at the club.
Speaking of his retirement, Fraser thanked Saracens for their unwavering ‘loyalty’ as he reflects on his career: "As everyone knows, I have had a torrid time with injuries pretty much throughout my whole career, but especially in the last couple of years. Unfortunately, with this injury, I have had to listen to the medical advice which has been for me to stop playing. The decision was made for me, which is tough, but it’s a decision that completely I understand and accept.
"As I take time to reflect I can look back on my career with no regrets. There’s nothing more I think I could have done or anything else I wished I could have done – I’ve been so lucky to have experienced the dream of being a rugby player at a place that I love and with people who are incredibly special to me.
On Fraser’s retirement, Saracens director of rugby, Mark McCall believes the ‘inspirational’ back rower will leave a legacy at Allianz Park: "All of our hearts go out to Will, as it’s incredibly sad news that a player and a man of his calibre has been forced to call time on his career in such a premature fashion," said McCall.
"Will’s attitude, commitment and selflessness will be his legacy at Saracens. The way he fought back from a number of injuries was an inspiration to us all, as was his positivity in the face of a number of cruel setbacks.
"He is, and will always remain, a Saracens man and boy," added McCall. "The respect and admiration in which he is held amongst his peers at Saracens cannot be overstated. He has played a key role in forging the culture we all enjoy here today and he will be missed. He is an intelligent, caring and focussed young man so we’re all certain that he will make a great success of any future endeavours and he’ll always be welcome at the Club and at Allianz Park,"
In his formative years, he benefitted from spells on loan with Bedford Blues and the Western Province Academy before establishing himself as one of England’s brightest talents in the Saracens senior side after making his debut in 2010.
He enjoyed a taste of international rugby, representing England Saxons and was included in the senior training squads for Stuart Lancaster’s England team.
A series of unfortunately timed injuries has prevented him gaining his full international honours but Fraser’s fought back to play a starring role in the club’s maiden European Champions Cup win and third Premiership title.
He retires having made 83 appearances for Saracens and was a member of the 2011, 2015, 2016 Premiership title and 2016, 2017 Champions Cup and 2015 Anglo-Welsh Cup winning squads. Will is now heading up the Saracens Way venture, a programme aiming to provide professional insights from how the double European champions operate.
Speaking of Fraser's retirement, Saracens Chairmen Nigel Wray said: "At the start of what I now call the Saracens Revolution some eight years ago, or so, I met two young lads training at the Stellenbosch Academy, namely Jackson Wray and Will Fraser who along with a few other outstanding young guys have today become the group that we refer to as being like Manchester United's class of ‘92.
"Will played, of course, in the Double winning side of 2016 that won Europe for the first time and the Premiership for the third. Before injuries beset him he also got so close to that first cap for England that he would doubtless have had.
"So, whilst it's really sad to see his playing career end so early, it's great that he won't be lost to us with his work with 'The Saracens Way'. He's a great guy and you can never have too many of those!"
On his 13-year love-affair with Saracens, Fraser added: "I’ve been at Saracens since I was a boy, so to say that this club has a special place in my heart would be the understatement of the century – it’s my home, it’s been my family’s home, so I have so much to be thankful for because of the Club.
"Saracens have been incredible throughout my career. With every setback and with every injury the medical staff and the Strength & Conditioning staff have worked tirelessly to get me back together again and get me out on the pitch. The coaches have been unbelievably supportive and their loyalty to me has been nothing short of incredible. They stood by me when the majority of other club’s and coaches would have let me go – they’ve been unbelievable from my point of view, but the club has been so much more for my family. The way they rallied round our family when Henry (Will’s brother) had his diving accident in 2009 was amazing. When all that happened, the club were phenomenal with us as a family in what was an incredibly difficult time. They were there not just for me, but for all us, and for that I’ll always be indebted to them,"
Fraser added: "In any walk of life, it’s incredibly rare to go through your job with such a tight bunch of friends. In terms of the rugby it couldn’t get much better, we made so many memories on the pitch, but to do that alongside your best mates is something that I’ll always be immensely thankful for,"