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The 'England conversation' Borthwick just had about Ruan Ackermann

By Chris Jones
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Gloucester boss George Skivington has suggested that Ruan Ackermann could still potentially be a Rugby World Cup wildcard for England even though he will soon undergo knee surgery to fix the damage sustained by the recent clearout that earned La Rochelle prop Georges-Henri Colombe a four-game ban.

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The Gloucester boss confirmed that the name of the uncapped Ackermann is very much in the England mix following the conversation he had with Test head coach Steve Borthwick just days after the South African-born back-rower back was hurt in his team’s agonising 29-26 Heineken Champions Cup round-of-16 loss in France on April 1.

Ackermann now faces a period out of the game once he undergoes the surgery. However, Skivington claimed the damage isn’t as bad as an ACL injury – although the full extent of the injury won’t be known until the surgeon has examined it in detail.

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Ackermann is having to wait for the swelling to fully recede before he can have the operation and Skivington, whose Gloucester side take on Bath on Friday night in the latest round of Gallagher Premiership fixtures, said: “Ironically, on the Monday after La Rochelle, I had a long talk with Steve Borthwick about Ruan.

“He is in the England conversation and his form and work he has put in is the reason for that. Ruan does need surgery, but the scans showed it wasn’t as bad as it could have been and the knee has to settle down. It was that 150kg guy rolling through his knee – and that would have finished most of us off.

“We won’t see him again this season, but we have our fingers crossed that the recovery won’t be a long slog like we have had with numerous other players. The scans showed damage but nothing horrific and we don’t want to make plans until they cut open and tell us what is needed to be done. We are relatively positive about it. It isn’t ACL but there are a few areas of damage and hopefully not something like six to nine months.

“He is a tough character but, like all of us, he is pretty devastated about it. This is the first one that while it isn’t malicious, it was sloppy. It has hurt us and also Ruan because he is on the edge of that England fold.”

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Skivington also confirmed Scotland No10 Adam Hastings is back in training after his injury lay-off and could play before the end of the season.

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