Val Rapava Ruskin, the Gloucester prop, has suffered a “devastating blow” in his bid to break into the England squad with knee surgery ruling him out of contention for the Six Nations championship.
George Skivington, the Gloucester director of rugby, does not expect to have his powerhouse prop back in action until the “back end of the season” after the player lost his battle to sort out the knee injury without the intervention of a surgeon. Rapava Ruskin was sent back from the England Rugby World Cup training squad preparing for the tournament in France in July and was determined to prove that was the wrong call.
Skivington, who is already with out long term injury victims Adam Hastings, the Scotland outside half, and No8 Ruan Ackermann, will also have to face Leicester in the Slater Cup on Saturday without Fiji forward Albert Tuisue who damaged his calf in the 25-24 loss to Exeter. The extent of the calf injury is still to be determined but he could also be sidelined for some weeks.
Skivington, who saw his side robbed of victory thanks to Henry Slade’s last gasp penalty at Sandy Park, said: “It is not good news about Val and he will be out for a number of months and we won’t see him until post the mid-season break. We have no idea how he has done what he did (to the knee) and he has had an irritation in there which we thought he could battle through but when they did the investigation it was worse.
“We erred on the side of caution and made sure he got the surgery he needed and it is a devastating blow – no doubt. We would rather have a fit Val at the back end of the season than drag something on. Val has no idea why his knee started blowing up and initially he wasn’t in any pain and so we weren’t too worried and had it drained a couple of times.
“However, it kept coming back to a ridiculous level and he has got big knees anyway and it was huge. It is gutting when someone gets released from a World Cup camp and he wants to put his hand up and show everyone what he can do. Unfortunately, that is not how this has worked out.”