Bristol head coach Liam Middleton gives Fautua Otto a break from playing
FAUTUA Otto will not travel to Belfast with Bristol on Friday as he continues his rehabilitation from a serious knee injury.
Bristol's Samoan centre underwent knee surgery last summer and has made cameo appearances from the bench in his side's last two matches.
But, after appearing for a total of 39 minutes plus stoppage-time across the win over Doncaster and defeat at Cornish Pirates, Otto will spend the next fortnight working with Bristol's strength and conditioning staff.
That means he will miss Friday's key British & Irish Cup pool match against Ulster Ravens at Deramore Park, as well as the following weekend's home clash with Cardiff in the same competition.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Bristol head coach Liam Middleton said: "We are probably going to pull Tua back a little bit. He has had a couple of games now and has got a feel of where he is in terms of his knee.
"We feel it is probably going to take some more time with the rehab to get him back to his best. We were giving him 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there, so we have a good idea of where he is.
"So he is now going to be pulled back and he will spend two weeks with the strength and conditioners, just to push up his fitness and his speed, then we will reintegrate him."
Middleton, who stressed that Otto has not re-injured his knee, will be able to call upon the fit-again Mike Tagicakibau in Northern Ireland.
The Fiji winger has not played since November 30 against London Scottish but has now recovered from a problem that was affecting the back of his knee.
"Mike is back fit this week, so he will definitely be starting on Friday and he is looking really sharp," said Middleton.
"So the decision to pull him out for four weeks was probably the right one, although we missed him, and to have him back means we can afford to leave Tua behind."
Regarding Otto's two-week stint with the conditioning staff, Middleton said there was a tricky balance to strike between getting one of their key players back on the field and making sure he is completely ready to play.
"It is a difficult one and it was the same with Mike Tagicakibau," said Middleton.
"We were desperate to play him but he was constantly struggling with niggles. Ultimately, you have to pull a player back to give them a chance to recover properly.
"With Tua, we are looking at the mid-to-long-term, yet the matches are here now, right in front of us. You don't want to get to March and he's fully fit but you are not in the top four and you are out of the running. It's a tricky balance but we're confident in our whole squad.
"We have to remember Tua had a major injury and I think it's a triumph for him as an individual that he got back on the pitch when he did.
"We have given him a couple of 20-minute blasts, but he is not ready to start, and therefore there is no need for me to keep putting him on the bench. Instead, we can give him two weeks with the conditioners."
Bristol, meanwhile, expect prop Jason Hobson to be available for Friday's game as they are still to hear from the Rugby Football Union regarding a date for his appeal against a 12-week ban for biting.
"I would be disappointed if we hadn't heard by Wednesday what the date is going to be," said Middleton. "But the appeal is not going to be heard this week, so he can play."