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The vax red tape that has recently sidelined Sale's Raffi Quirke

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Raffi Quirke started the new Gallagher Premiership season like an express train, being instrumental in the opening round win by Sale over Bath despite only playing the first half and three days later securing selection in Eddie Jones’ training squad England. However, his momentum has been checked since then due to medical reasons surrounding Covid vaccination. 


Quirke’s appearance versus Bath meant that he had played in 14 of Sale’s 19 matches until that point under new boss Alex Sanderson, but the 20-year-old has now sat out his team’s two most recent games. 

He had been chosen to start last Sunday’s draw versus London Irish but was a late withdrawal just hours before kick-off and while Sanderson suggested that Quirke was potentially available for selection versus Exeter this Sunday, the recent England U20s Grand Slam winner hasn’t made the matchday 23. 

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Sale boss Alex Sanderson guests on RugbyPass All Access
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Sale boss Alex Sanderson guests on RugbyPass All Access

What gives? Apparently, he was prevented under Covid vaccination small print from taking a pain-relieving injection to help him stave off the effects of some bone bruising, hence the appearance of Will Cliff in the Sale No9 jersey for two successive league games. 

“Raffi at the moment is still going through fitness tests and we will make our mind up and we will see by the weekend, he is available at the moment,” reported Sanderson on Wednesday, but his player eventually didn’t feature on the team list when announced on Friday.

“It’s bone bruising, that is all, it is and with this kind of an injury, if you are able to steroid inject it takes the pain away and you can play on. But we are all still in the grips of Covid so he had his jab on the Sunday and unbeknown to us if you have your jab you are not allowed to have steroid injections for two weeks post that. So the reality here is if it wasn’t for Covid, Raffi Quirke would be playing but as it is we are going to look after him, we have to protect him from himself.”


Sanderson, though, felt Sale didn’t lose much if anything by not having Quirke line out last weekend at Irish. “We gave him [Quirke] as long as we could to come back because he was just that electric the week before, but Will played great. 

“I know Manu (Tuilagi) got man of the match but I thought he [Cliff] probably deserved it for some of his little touches, his little flicks over the top, his show-and-go down the five-metre channel. Will is getting on a bit [he turns 33 on October 17]. Raffi and Faf (de Klerk) are really quick but what he lacks in speed of foot, he makes up for in speed of mind so we are not losing a lot there.”


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