Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Burke Ruled out for Rest of Campaign; Full-Back Is Facing Long Injury Lay-Off

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rugby Union: Burke Ruled out for Rest of Campaign; Full-Back Is Facing Long Injury Lay-Off

Article excerpt

JOHN Fletcher last night described his devastation as a scan on Matt Burke's left knee revealed ligament damage that will bring the former World Cup winner's season to a premature end.

The Newcastle Falcons full-back left Kingston Park in pain at the weekend and, although the club's medical team had hoped the problem Burke suffered during Sunday's defeat against Bath would not prove as serious as was first feared, last night's news could not have been much worse.

Having ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament, Burke has been told to expect to spend the next nine months recovering. Although the Falcons have negotiated only six Guinness Premiership fixtures, the 34-year-old has been told his campaign is over.

"We're absolutely devastated by the news," said Fletcher, the club's director of rugby, who was last night examining his options ahead of this weekend's trip to Gloucester.

"We're obviously disappointed from a team point of view, but, more importantly, we're devastated for Matt. He has made such an outstanding contribution to the club during his three years with us.

"After a period of time, we will sit down with Matt and see what he feels is the best course of action.

"But the advice from the medical team is that this injury carries a ninemonth rehabilitation period which sadly means we will not see Matt play again this season."

Burke was injured during Sunday's second half against Bath and, with his knee too swollen to conduct a thorough examination, the influential Australian was forced to wait to undergo a scan.

Fletcher and his coaching staff kept their fingers crossed that the subsequent verdict might be more favourable than expected. But with the problem last night confirmed as a grade three tear, Burke's absence will be long term.

His current contract finishes at the end of the season, but Newcastle would be more than happy to see him resume his playing career with them.

However, there will be no rush to make any decision. …

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