London Irish lock Adam Coleman will not be recovered in time to offer new Wallaby head coach Dave Rennie another second-row option for the Rugby Championship following the arm injury suffered by Rory Arnold.
Arnold suffered a suspected fractured arm in Toulouse’s loss to Exeter in the Heineken European Cup semi-final and his form had impressed Rennie who was considering recalling the lock forward to the national colours following a relaxation of the eligibility rules.
Coleman quit Australian rugby to sign a lucrative contract with London Irish but he agreed to undergo shoulder surgery and Declan Kidney, the exiles director of rugby, today confirmed the 38 cap forward will not be ready until the middle of November.
Kidney, who must wait until after the Rugby Championship is finished on December 12 to add Rob Simmons, the 100 cap Wallaby lock, to his squad, said: “Because of the rehab, Adam won’t be ready to play until November 21 and the fact that he hasn’t played for so long and has had the surgery probably rules him out for international selection. A player of Adam’s abilities would have been of assistance to us in recent weeks with way the matches have been coming.”
Simmons and Coleman will be key players for Irish next season but the club still has to face European finalists Exeter on Wednesday and Bristol next Sunday to bring an end to difficult season. Irish will be moving into their new home at the Brentford Community Stadium which has a 17,250 capacity although that will be rendered meaningless if the pandemic keeps fans out of sports stadiums until the New Year. Kidney is keenly aware of the financial pressures on his club and the whole of the Premiership which includes paying for COVID-19 testing of players with Exeter’s Rob Baxter suggesting this could be ended in a matter of weeks.
Kidney said: “We are the same as other clubs and the industry is taking a massive hit and it is like a bucket with a hole in it – something has to be put in it to stop the flow of water out. There are people working hard to try and make that happen and rugby is suffering like any industry.
“Sometimes it is assuring for the public to know that we are a contact sport and want to go out into the community and not be locked in a bubble and it is a financial burden on the clubs to do that (testing). Maybe it is Ok to stop testing but what happens if you suddenly get a spike? It is a conundrum.”
Irish are discussing the best way to honour the memory of Sergeant Matt Ratana, who played for the club’s amateur team, shot and killed on duty in South London. He added: “We are discussing what may take place and here we are talking about COVID-19 and there is a man who went out to do his job and didn’t come home. How sad is that. It has affected the people who knew Matt and we are taking a look to see what is most appropriate.”
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