Bristol Rugby coach backs Bryan Rennie to make full recovery
LIAM Middleton has backed Bryan Rennie to make a full recovery from the knee injury that has ended his season after just 88 minutes in a Bristol shirt.
But the head coach is lamenting the fact he will not be able to send a midfield pairing of Rennie and Fautua Otto into Championship battle this season.
Bristol's worst fears over centre Rennie's injury were confirmed yesterday, when scans on the 27-year-old's knee revealed he had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. The average recovery time from such an injury is nine months.
Summer signing Rennie, who fractured his shoulder in a pre-season match, has appeared only twice for Bristol in competitive action, playing 80 minutes at Rotherham earlier this month and then damaging his knee eight minutes into the British & Irish Cup win against Ulster Ravens nine days ago.
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"Bryan is a very positive individual and he has a very strong character," said Middleton.
"If you look at the physical state and condition he is in, you don't get into that condition without a lot of hard work and commitment.
"And I think he will apply the same intensity that he shows in training to his rehabilitation. I know he is bitterly disappointed, but he is also very determined to come back from this and show what he can do.
"There's a lot of rugby for Bryan to play in his career, and hopefully that is at Bristol. He was a significant signing for us and I think he would have been very influential for us this season."
Middleton has not yet been able to field Samoa centre Otto this season, with the 27-year-old on course to return from injury in January.
And the head coach said: "It would have been great to see both Bryan and Tua on the field at the same time – I think they would have posed a significant threat to any defence.
"But that's not going to happen now. Tua will be back early in the new year, though, and we have to hope he can get a consistent of run of games to the end of the season, because we can't really afford to lose both him and Bryan from our squad."
Middleton hopes to secure an agreement with Aviva Premiership club Bath that will see on-loan centre Ben Mosses spend the rest of the season at the Memorial Stadium.
"I think Ben will stay with us for the foreseeable future if we can make that agreement with Bath, which I think we will be able to," said Middleton.
"Bryan is a big loss, but we have to develop other guys to meet his standards, because unfortunately this kind of thing is the nature of what happens in professional sport.
"We were hoping it wasn't as bad as we initially feared, but it is that way so we are not going to see him on the field again this season.
"He has made a significant impact off the field, but unfortunately less so on the field because of injuries. But he is a hard worker, he is very determined, and he will return."