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Big knock rules Raffi Quirke out again in latest injury set back

By Chris Jones
SALFORD, ENGLAND - MAY 14: Raffi Quirke of Sale Sharks passes the ball during the Gallagher Premiership Semi-Final match between Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers AJ Bell Stadium on May 14, 2023 in Salford, England. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Raffi Quirke, the England international scrum half, faces a possible six week recovery period after breaking his jaw in the latest significant injury of his young career.

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Quirke, 22, broke into the England squad under Eddie Jones, the former head coach, and made his debut as a replacement for Ben Youngs against Australia in 2021 becoming the youngest scrum half since Nick Duncombe to wear the England No9 jersey.

He came off the bench again in the match with South Africa, showing his pace with the winning try in a 27-26 victory at Twickenham.

However, injury set backs ruined his hopes of pushing for a place in the England squad for the Rugby World Cup in France and he now faces another battle to get back to the form that took him into the international squad.

Quirke was injured in the 20-15 win over Northampton on October 15 and Alex Sanderson, the Sale director of rugby, said: “Raffi has elastic bands on the back of his jaw and it is a fracture but a non displaced fracture. It is a four to six week period out and he is in a good place despite his concurrent injuries and this was another one out of his control. We will start to build him up again.”

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Quirke was sidelined for six months after requiring an operation on a hamstring he pulled off the bone, making it back onto the pitch in October 2022. He then suffered a wrist injury which forced him to sit out yet more rugby.

Sanderson would not name the three World Cup players who have returned to training but that is likely to have included England’s Tom Curry and Argentina’s Agustin Creevy.

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Hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie is “close” to playing after having a further check up on his neck injury while Ben Curry has been fully training this week.

Sale, who were beaten 43-0 by Exeter last weekend, take on Gloucester at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night, will be without wing Tom O’Flaherty who has a groin injury.

“I had to take ownership about what I could have done differently,” added Sanderson. “I got the reflections from the players and then you start to get it right.

“I don’t choose to use shame and embarrassment as tools. The hairdryer treatment is not sustainable after a poor performance and training this week has been energised.”

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J
Jon 6 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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