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Surgery rules England hopeful out of the Six Nations

By Chris Jones
Val Rapava Ruskin of Gloucester receives medical attention after a head injury during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Exeter Chiefs and Gloucester Rugby at Sandy Park on January 28, 2023 in Exeter, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Gloucester prop Val Rapava-Ruskin has suffered a “devastating blow” in his bid to break into the England squad, with knee surgery ruling him out of contention for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations.

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George Skivington, the Gloucester director of rugby, has revealed that he doesn’t expect to have his powerhouse prop back in action until the “back end of the season” after the player lost his battle to sort out the knee injury without the intervention of a surgeon.

Rapava-Ruskin was excluded from the England Rugby World Cup training squad preparing for the tournament in France in mid-July and was determined to prove that was the wrong call.

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Skivington, who is already without long-term injury victims Adam Hastings, the Scottish outside half, and No8 Ruan Ackermann, will also have to face Leicester in the Gallagher Premiership next Saturday without Fiji forward Albert Tuisue, who damaged his calf in the 25-24 loss to Exeter. The extent of that injury is still to be determined, but he could also be sidelined for some weeks.

“It is not good news about Val and he will be out for a number of months and we won’t see him until post the mid-season break,” explained Skivington on Tuesday, two days after a last-gasp penalty consigned Gloucester to defeat at Exeter.

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“We have no idea how he has done what he did (to the knee). He has had an irritation in there which we thought he could battle through but when they did the investigation it was worse.

“We erred on the side of caution and made sure he got the surgery he needed and it is a devastating blow – no doubt. We would rather have a fit Val at the back end of the season than drag something on. Val has no idea why his knee started blowing up. Initially, he wasn’t in any pain, so we weren’t too worried and had it drained a couple of times.

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“However, it kept coming back to a ridiculous level. He has got big knees anyway and it was huge. It is gutting when someone gets released from a World Cup camp and he wants to put his hand up and show everyone what he can do. Unfortunately, that is not how this has worked out.”

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