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Paul Willemse ruled out for the rest of the season

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Top 14 leaders Montpellier have been dealt a massive blow ahead of their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at La Rochelle as Paul Willemse, the recent Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam winner with France, has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. 

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The 29-year-old South African damaged his knee in last Saturday’s league defeat versus Lyon and the medical update issued by his club on Tuesday wasn’t good. 

A statement from Montpellier read: “We can confirm Paul Willemse’s knee injury following the confrontation against Lyon. He suffered a rupture of the medial-lateral ligament of the knee. 

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“We currently estimate his unavailability at eight weeks. He will finish the season in the medical service and will remain present with the group in order to support his partners in the final stretch. We wish him a good recovery.”

Willemse was a Montpellier starter in their dramatic one-point aggregate victory over their two round of 16 leg matches versus Harlequins last month and his absence for the European clash with La Rochelle and the games to follow in the Top 14 won’t just affect his club as the injury will also see him miss the France tour to Japan in July. 

His injury is the latest complication for Montpellier boss Philippe Saint-Andre. The season ended recently for Cobus Reinach following his shoulder injury while tighthead Mohamed Haouas is due to appear at a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday following a dangerous tackle on Clement Laporte. He could be suspended for several weeks.

Following this weekend’s European quarter-final, Montpellier have two matches remaining in the regulation league season before the end-of-season Top 14 playoffs. 

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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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