NRC: Vikings treat Valetini with caution

NRC
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Canberra are taking a cautious approach with youngster Rob Valetini, opting to leave the flanker out of their team to face the Melbourne Rising on Saturday.

Valetini came off against NSW Country last weekend with a knee concern that sent alarm bells through the Vikings camp after a season in which the backrower has struggled with consecutive injuries.

The 20-year-old hurt his knee in his Super Rugby debut at the start of this year and then had a recurrence of the injury just two games into his comeback, ending his first season prematurely.

Things aren’t as serious as first thought this time around but Vikings coach Nick Scrivener said they didn’t want to risk Valetini before they had a full diagnosis of his latest twinge.

“He hasn't properly been diagnosed with what it is yet but the information I've got, it's not all that serious,” he said.

“He's just maybe stirred it up a little bit and it's not quite ready to go. It was 50-50 but we just made the call not to play him.”

Scrivener said Valetini was coping well with a new setback and the team was optimistic he wouldn’t be out for long.

“It's always young or old, you feel a long-term injury and particularly one where it's come back and stirred it up again during the season and then out again,” he said.

Rob Valetini has shot into the spotlight in the 2017 NRC. Photot: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“The mental side of things is half the battle a lot of the time. I just think guys can be aware of things but his head space is all right.

"We've just got to make a determination exactly what it is going forward.

"He's just getting some other opinions at the moment."

While Valetini was always a long shot to play this weekend, the Vikings were forced into a last-minute reshuffle with hooker Josh Mann-Rea ruled out.

Mann-Rea has only just returned from a gruesome hamstring injury and while that issue appears to be tracking well, the 37-year-old hurt his back in the lead-up to round five.

“I just found out that Josh Mann-Rea's out injured, so Conal McInerney comes back into the starting team,” Scrivener said on Thursday morning.

“He's just stirred his back up a little bit training the other day.

“We thought it was going to be okay but he's presenting this morning poorly so we just made the call 10 mins ago that he won't be right.”

Jordan Jackson-Hope, who scored the match winner after full-time last weekend against NSW Country, will also miss the match due to family commitments.

The Vikings take on the Melbourne Rising on Saturday September 29, kicking off at 7pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS 3 503.