The Apprentice star Conor Gilsenan's secret heartbreak after sudden injury ended rugby career at 27

THE Apprentice's Conor Gilsenan was forced to give up a successful career as a rugby player because of a crippling injury.

Conor, 28, made 70 appearances for London Irish during his six seasons with the Exiles, having initially signed up for the 2014/2015 season.

But last September, the sportsman had to take sudden retirement from rugby due to medical reasons.

At the time, Conor announced his shocking and heartbreaking news in a statement on the London Irish website.

He said: "It is with a heavy heart that I am wrapping up my career in rugby and my time with London Irish. A club that quickly became my adopted home over the past six years.

"I have played with some incredible players, built relationships with extraordinary people and represented a special club with great supporters.

"Thanks to everyone who played a part in my time at Irish, fond memories I will take with me for a lifetime."

Conor added: "The future is bright for the club with the move back to London on the horizon and I look forward to supporting the boys in Brentford."

The new series of The Apprentice kicks off this Thursday (January 6).

Just two months after hanging up his rugby boots, Conor was hired as a sales executive at ecommerce group FIS. He is also director of the mobile bar 301 Bar.

Conor is hoping to impress Lord Alan Sugar and this year's sidekicks, Baroness Karren Brady and Tim Campbell MBE, with his business skills and knowledge of the sports events industry.

Former Apprentice winner Tim is standing in for Sugar's usual aide Claude Littner, who won't be taking part due to medical reasons.

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Speaking to the BBC ahead of his Apprentice debut, Conor said: "I’m going to be the corporate panther in the boardroom, I’m going to get it done, and I’m going to be Lord Sugar’s perfect business partner."

The BBC, meanwhile, has said of Conor: "Hard working and 'hyper-motivated by money', former professional rugby player Conor describes himself as a 'corporate panther' with a record for getting deals done – who thinks he will win this series.

"His business idea consists of a fleet of quirky food and beverage vendors targeted at music and sports events."

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