Robbie Fruean sidelined again by heart issue

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2014
Robbie Fruean
KIRK HARGREAVES/ Fairfax NZ
TEMPORARY ABSENCE: Chiefs coach Dave Rennie expects Robbie Fruean to be out for between four and eight weeks as he recovers from his latest heart setback.

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Chiefs coach Dave Rennie is optimistic Robbie Fruean will bounce back quickly from his latest heart setback.

Fruean requires treatment for abnormal heart rhythms that will keep him sidelined for one or two months during the 2014 Super Rugby season.

The blockbusting centre, who joined the Chiefs from the Crusaders in the off-season, had his second open-heart surgery last year to replace a faulty valve.

He made an excellent recovery and was cleared to start the season for the two-times defending champions and scored a try in an opening-game victory over his former side.

However, Fruean suffered from an accelerated heartbeat in his side's win over the Stormers on Friday night in Hamilton and was left short of breath.

That saw the Chiefs medical team opt for the same treatment former rugby player Gus Collins and ex-Olympic champion rower Rob Waddell have received to cure their heart problems.

Rennie said Fruean hadn't been rushed back into action this year.

"It's got nothing to do with that - he was good. It's just part of the process. He's able to train right throughout this period.

"What we're looking at is four to eight weeks. All things going well, if he ended up in the middle of that, five weeks or whatever, that would be great from our point of view."

Rennie said there were never any guarantees surrounding Fruean's condition following last year's surgery.

"We weren't sure how he was going to bounce back.

"We weren't certain that he was going to start the season on time, but he worked really hard and got a clearance. This is something that just popped up and needs to be sorted.

"We hoped that medication would sort that, and medication seemed to work for a while.

"It's at a stage where it's best to get the treatment and get it sorted so he can play at a hundred [per cent]."

The Chiefs will also be without injured backs Charlie Ngatai and James Lowe for their three away matches against the Western Force, Bulls and the Cheetahs.

Ngatai injured his calf muscle on Friday and will be out for 4-6 weeks, while Lowe damaged his MCL knee ligament and has the same expected recovery time.

However, prop Ben Afeaki, flanker Sam Cane and halfback Augustine Pulu move off the injured list to join the travelling group and will be joined by wider training squad members Brad Webber, Anton Lienert-Brown and Jordan Payne.

"Charlie Ngatai's scan this morning was not quite as bad as first feared - maybe 4-5 weeks rather than eight," Rennie said yesterday.

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Rennie said the injury woes were eased somewhat by the versatility of his players, while he had confidence in the newcomers too.

"Anton Lienert-Brown played all the pre-season games for us and went really well as a 12," he said.

"Jordan Payne, he's been with us since December. You guys may not know much about him as he hasn't played NPC yet, but he's pretty special.

"One of them will certainly get game-time this weekend."

- Waikato Times

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