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Lyon sign Top League Kiwi as medical joker cover for Lima Sopoaga

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by MIchael Bradley/AFP via Getty Images)

Lyon have confirmed they have drafted in former Hurricanes out-half Fletcher Smith as medical joker cover for former All Blacks half-back Lima Sopoaga. It was a fortnight ago when Sopoaga, who moved to France from English club Wasps in 2021, underwent an operation on his left knee that will sideline him for four months. 

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That left Challenge Cup title winners Lyon on the lookout for some cover and the trail led them to Smith, who had finished up his season in Japan. Having left the Hurricanes in 2020, Smith initially pitched up at the Shining Arcs in Tokyo and then signed for Green Rockets Tokatsu having spent the time in between the different Japanese seasons playing for Waikato in the Mitre 10.   

Lyon also confirmed that French Test prop Demba Bamba had been operated on as well following his injury versus Japan this month. He will miss the next six months. A Lyon statement read: “This is the hard blow of this 2022 recovery, Lima Sopoaga and Demba Bamba have been operated on and will be out for several months.

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“Lima Sopoaga was operated on last July 19 for patellar tendinitis in his left knee by Dr Bertrand Sonnery Cottet. He is expected to be out for four months. To make up for his absence, LOU Rugby can count on Fletcher Smith as a medical joker. 

“At the age of 27, this New Zealand out-half, who distinguished himself in Super Rugby, has signed up with the LOU and will discover the Top 14 in the colours of the red and black.”

Following three seasons to Wasps after exiting New Zealand, Sopoaga made 16 appearances in his first season, nine as a starter, but he missed out on the latter part of the season, including the Challenge Cup final win over French rivals Toulon in Marseille due to injury.

Switching to the situation in their forwards, the Lyon statement added: “Demba Bamba also had surgery on his left knee after a cartilage injury during the second game of the French team in Japan. He will be out for six months.”

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