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Skivington hints Gloucester have already checked out of Premiership

By Chris Jones
(Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images)

Argentina international Santi Carreras is in a race against time to help Gloucester’s bid for a third European Challenge Cup triumph when they face the Sharks from South Africa in the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 24.

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Carreras has been first choice at fullback for the Cherry and Whites and was also the Pumas’ starting fly-half at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, but is recovering from having his appendix removed. He missed the last two Gallagher Premiership matches along with the Cup semi-final win over Benetton last weekend and will be absent for the remaining league games at Northampton Saints on Saturday and home to Newcastle Falcons.

Despite this lack of rugby and the complications of recovering from surgery, George Skivington is not ruling Carreras out of the final which sees the West Country side chasing yet another Challenge Cup triumph in their fifth final.

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With the Sharks, who had a 32-31 win over Clermont in their semi-final at the Twickenham Stoop, boasting key members of the Springbok World Cup winning team, Skivington knows he will need the kind of big match experience Carreras possesses.

Skivington addressed the situation at the club’s press briefing and said there was an outside chance prop Val Rapava-Ruskin and Pumas lock Matias Alemanno could also make the final stating: “Santi could potentially get back for the final and while hasn’t been out on the pitch he is doing his thing in the background. I knew he wouldn’t make it to the semi-final but in theory, he can get there.

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Northampton
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Gloucester
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“It is one of those where we go week by week and it may come down to the Sunday night before the final to make some calls and hopefully Santi will be in that bracket. There are some players who are world-class and Santi is absolutely in that bracket and in an ideal world you have all of your experienced players ready for the final.

“I hope I am going to have a few lads knocking on the door saying they can play and then I will have to make the decision. Some players can step right back into a team after a break and other can’t.”

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Gloucester are short of options in the No15 jersey with Lloyd Evans also injured having had surgery on his hand.

Gloucester were beaten 38-17 by Exeter Chiefs at home in their last Premiership game and have only won four games in the league, which puts them just above bottom club Newcastle. Having won the Premiership Rugby Cup and opting to target the Challenge Cup has brought criticism over the club’s attitude to the remaining Premiership games.

Skivington said: “I am trying to be as honest as I can around the Premiership and our approach, especially with the last two games. There is no point pretending the final is not on the horizon and there is a balance (to be found). You have to be ready to play and an opportunity to look after a few players because at this time of year there are bangs and bruises. When I talk about using the Premiership slightly differently I am not making any excuses and that is important to make clear.

“I am not saying it is ok where we are in the league what I am saying is that we have taken a different route some months ago – whether to chase our way up the Prem a little bit and finish somewhere in the middle if we had a good run or go after a couple of Cups. You cannot do it all and that is the decision I made and people either like it or lump it. I don’t think I win either way.

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“We need to address being better in the Premiership next season and there is a golden opportunity for the young lads. Some will thrive and some won’t and while it’s not the perfect end to the league, we have some really good youngsters and I will be getting some out there.

“I also believe that what happened against Exeter was not acceptable and a couple of lads missed out on the semi-final because they didn’t deliver. The lads know that selection is on the line and everyone is going to like my attitude. Northampton are the form team in the Premiership.”

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