Head coach Gary Gold, who is coming to terms with the “devastating “ loss of captain AJ MacGInty , has revealed that Harlequins centre Paul Lasike and Montpellier prop Titi Lamositele are also ruled out of the USA Eagles test matches with England and Ireland next month.
MacGinty is understood to be facing up to four months out as he needs knee surgery after being injured against Exeter leaving Springbok Rob du Preez to wear the Sale Sharks No10 jersey for the Gallagher` Premiership semi-final at Exeter.
Gold who is preparing to fly to England and then spend a period in quarantine with the Eagles squad in a Surrey hotel before training at the Harlequins base in Guildford, has been forced to radically change his planning for the two tests in Twickenham (July 4) and Dublin (July 10) following the injury to MacGinty and the withdrawal of Lasike and Lamositele. While Gold is hoping Sale can work another recovery miracle with MacGinty after helping Springbok Lood de Jager get back four weeks earlier than expected from a broken leg, the news about Lasike is brutal.
The Harlequins centre ruptured an Achilles tendon in training with the Premiership club and is out for nine months which means he cannot help the Eagles in their qualifying matches with Canada for the 2023 Rugby World Cup which take place in September. Gold is hopeful that MacGinty will make it back in time and he can take come comfort from the fact that former Saracens prop Lamositele is not injured.
However, Lamositele cannot face England and Ireland as he is remaining in France to support his wife following the arrival of their new baby. Gold said: “AJ has been outstanding for Sale and while it is devastating to lose him, a knee operation is the best of the possible outcomes that were being discussed. Of the various scenarios this is not the worst case. It is a really big blow and while rugby is never about one player, certain positions have a lot more influence and when you have a play maker who is also your captain it is a real blow.
“It comes on the back of losing Paul Lasike and Titi Lamositele and they are the three players who have lots of Premiership experience and know the players we are going to be coming up against in the tests. Paul ruptured his Achilles tendon shortly after playing really well in the amazing win over Wasps and our axis (in the backs) was Paul and AJ and to say that it has been bad couple of days is an understatement.
“The upside in AJ’s case is that we may get him for the World Cup qualifiers and that would be huge.”
The Major League Rugby season in the United States is giving Gold reason to believe the strength in depth is improving in the Eagles squad and with more competitive matches being played the standard is rising. Gold recognises that discovering if the strides have been enough to make the Eagles truly competitive with Tier One nations like England and Ireland is going to be critical. “It is going to be a tough two weeks not only for the matches but also the bubble: “added Gold.
“There are challenges to overcome and we will get an idea of how competitive we can be against what will still be good teams. Due to the MLR fixtures I will be travelling on June 27 with half the squad with those involved in West coast matches coming over a day later. All of our players have been vaccinated and we will be in quarantining in a hotel and then train at Surrey Sports Park.”