Lele Tusitala fears his rugby career is over after suffering a broken arm for the second time in 18 months while captaining Abu Dhabi Saracens on Friday.
The New Zealander suffered a fractured wrist and displaced ulna after making a tackle in the Capital Cup meeting with Abu Dhabi Harlequins at Zayed Sports City.
The Saracens flanker, who has been a key figure in the club’s emergence over the past three seasons, said recuperation will likely take the remainder of the season.
He cannot foresee returning to competitive rugby after that.
“I am really gutted because I wanted to see out the season with the boys,” said Tusitala, who had a plate inserted in his arm during surgery on Sunday.
“As soon as I made the tackle I got to my knees and I saw there was movement in my arm where there shouldn’t be.
“I thought to myself straight away that exactly the same thing had happened as the last injury.”
Tusitala, whose day job is as a sales manager, returned to playing in January of this year after recuperating from a similar injury.
He suffered a break to the other arm in April 2012, but, such was the esteem in which he is held at his club, he remained the Saracens club captain until his return nine months later.
He says it will be difficult to take a step back from the capital’s youngest Premiership club while it is still in the throes of rapid progression.
“Just like any other Kiwi kid I have grown up playing the game, it runs in my blood and even thinking about it now I’m going to miss it all,” he said. “I am going to miss contact, I’m going to miss training, all of it. It is really disappointing.
“I’ve been at Saracens since Day 1 and things have really been looking up this season, even if the results don’t show that. I was really looking forward to trying to get in to the Gulf Top Six, playing against the best clubs and really giving it a go. That is another disappointment.”
Saracens have looked past the experience of the seasoned forwards Pete Sampson and Alistair Thompson as a replacement for Tusitala. Instead, the responsibility of captaincy has been passed on to Dougie Steele, the Scottish back, who proved himself an adept stand-in at scrum-half against Harlequins on Friday.
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