Perry Baker, the World’s outstanding sevens player, is to undergo surgery to repair a double fracture of his jaw following a tackle by Tonga’s Tana Fotofili who was only yellow carded during the HSBC World Rugby Sevens series in Hamilton.
Baker arrived back in the USA yesterday and immediately went to see a surgeon and is expected to miss the next two legs of the Series events in Sydney this weekend and Las Vegas next month where the USA are the defending champions. Mike Friday, the USA head coach, believes Baker, who has been voted World Rugby Sevens Player of the Year for the last two years, could be back for the Hong Kong Sevens which start on April 5.
The USA reached the final of the Hamilton leg despite being robbed of one of their most potent weapons and were beaten by Fiji who have joined the Eagles at the top of the table heading to Sydney. Both teams have 57 points with New Zealand three behind.
Baker passed a head injury assessment after the heavy hit in Hamilton but x-rays revealed the broken jaw forcing him to immediately fly home for treatment. The incident happened in the opening pool game and the referee controversially only handed out a yellow card to the Tonga player. The incident will only add to the debate over protection for players in both sevens and the 15 man game.
Friday insists the USA will not rush Baker back and said: “It was unfortunate for Perry and it was a tough tackle, legal but maybe reckless and the outcome is that Perry’s jaw was fractured in two places so he has returned home and will have surgery. We will then look at his recovery and there is an outside chance he could be ready for Hong Kong but we won’t push it.
“We will take time, let him get fit and then be able to unleash him on the World circuit very soon.”
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