FREDDIE Burns admits time is running out to make the toughest decision of his career.
The England fly-half is out of contract at Kingsholm in the summer and has been heavily linked with a switch to Leicester Tigers – if Toby Flood moves to Toulon.
Speculation has intensified in the last 24 hours and Burns, who has spent his entire career with Gloucester, remains torn over his future.
He has bent the ear of just about everybody in his phonebook over the last month and has even mulled over his options with Jonny Wilkinson.
Burns said: “When I’m on the pitch it’s not in my mind but it’s definitely weighing heavy and the last couple of months have been the toughest both rugby wise and off the field.
“It’s a big decision to make and I don’t think people understand the pressure that comes with it – there’s no doubt it’s affected my performances which is why I want an answer.
“At the moment it’s one I am struggling to make. I’ve reached a stage where I am going for long walks. I’ve spent an hour and a half on the phone to Jonny Wilkinson. He called me and was at a similar position at Newcastle so it was good to speak to him.
“But the minute I feel clear on something I wake up the next day unclear. There are good clubs coming in for me but Gloucester are also a great club to play for and I’m determined to do my best for them whether I’m here or not next year.
“It’s a club I love so much.”
If a deal cannot be reached with the Cherry and Whites Burns will be eligible to hold talks with other suitors from January 1.
But as D-day looms Nigel Davies insists Gloucester have done everything possible to hang onto the 23-year-old.
And he reckons the recent signings of John Afoa and Sila Puafisi, plus future plans that have been outlined to Burns have provided a significant boost to their chances.
Davies said: “We’re speaking to Freddie on a daily basis and know he has a difficult decision to make.
“For any player out of contract it’s not purely financial. We have to look at the environment, the team we’re constructing and the style of rugby we want to play and that plays a big factor in their decision process.
“Agents will be agents and tout around all players coming out of contract even if it’s just to get the best price.
“It (Afoa and Puafisi) has been significant and there are a number of other announcements that we will make shortly.
“It’s a statement of intent, any team in Europe would have wanted to sign John Afoa and the fact we have is massive – not only for what he will bring but the rebound it has on potential other signings.
“I’m confident we have put everything in place but it’s a competitive market and he has a big decision to make.”
Burns immediate focus will be on Sunday’s return Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh and Davies admits it is vital Gloucester complete the double.
He added: “There’s no doubt they’ll use the disappointment of last week to come down and put in a big performance to get a result back.
“We’re very wary of that, it’s small steps and we have to make sure we don’t take one back.
“We can take nothing for granted and know we will have to be at our best. At the half-way stage we’re in a strong position and we want to solidify that on Sunday.”
Puafisi has been registered for European competition and will make his Heineken Cup debut for the clash but second row Lua Lokotui has been ruled out.