Director of rugby Geordan Murphy has provided an injury update on members of the Leicester Tigers squad as they prepare to travel to Toulon in the semi-finals of the 2019/20 European Challenge Cup.
The 23-year-old has returned to full training and is available for selection after almost 10 months on the side line.
Aspland-Robinson fractured his tibia in November, during the win over Pau at Welford Road, and played on before being pulled from the field by Tigers medical staff.
After undergoing surgery, his rehabilitation was prolonged during the postponement period of the 2019/20 campaign due to COVID-19 and Murphy says the outside-back’s character has helped him through a “challenging period” of his career.
“The pandemic was a strange situation for injured guys, as it presented an opportunity for some to miss much less rugby than they would of during a normal season,” said Murphy.
“But for others, like SAR, he probably had even longer out than expected with operations postponed and less one-on-one time with medical staff, meaning it was a longer road back.
“It was challenging for him but Sammy is a tough kid, a hard-working and professional player, who had his character tested with the extended stint on the touchline and he just cracked on and did everything required of him.
“It’s great to see him back, training with his team mates and for us, we’re afforded the added depth in the outside-backs with him now available for selection again.”
The summer addition arrived in the East Midlands during a rehabilitation period on an achilles injury suffered while playing Super Rugby in South Africa.
The back-rower continues to progress through return to play stages and Murphy says, while tempting, there is no need to rush Brink back into the mix before the end of the current campaign.
“It’s unlikely we will see him this season,” he said.
“We could very easily rush him back and be tempted into getting him into a Tigers shirt and on the pitch with his new team mates, but it’s not how we do things and we will only put him out on the pitch when it’s right to do so.”
“Cyle is an exciting, physical and experienced player, who are confident will be a big part of what we are building at Tigers and … when the time is right, we will see him out there, tormenting defenders and representing Leicester Tigers.”
Ilione made the step up from Under-18 League rugby to senior rugby over the summer after graduating from the Tigers Academy, following two seasons as a member of the squad and playing a key role in the final two of the three successive title wins for the cubs.
After taking part in Phase 1 of the returning to training programme, following the postponement period, the back-rower suffered a hamstring injury during the opening weeks of Phase 2.
With no development rugby on the cards for the short-term, Murphy says Ilione is being afforded extra, “crucial” time to properly rehab his hamstring at a young age.
“He is 18 and there is no need for us to be rushing him back in, with training the only rugby the youngsters are getting at this stage of the resumed season,” said the Tigers director of rugby.
“Hamstrings are a nightmare for old blokes, like me, but it’s also important that a young age, with an injury like this, it’s given the proper treatment and – with the time we have on our side – Emeka is being given that by our medical team at a crucial stage in his development.
“It will be frustrating for him, after just making the step up, but it’s a bump in the road and a learning experience he will benefit from this early on his career.”
Lavin suffered an ACL injury during the 2019/20 Premiership Shield competition, which saw the Tigers youngster undergo surgery ahead of the postponement period of the current campaign.
The back-rower continues to train on his own, with limited duties, while working through his rehabilitation programme and Murphy confirmed Lavin is another who will not play a part in the final month of the 2019/20 season.
“Henri won’t appear again this season, as he’s still a few months away from returning to full training,” Murphy said.
“It hasn’t been an ideal season for him, no, but he’s a young bloke, who thrives on being tested and enjoys hard work.
“We renewed his deal earlier this year and are excited for what is to come for Lav in Leicester Tigers colours.”
Martin suffered a MCL injury in the Premiership win over London Irish at Welford Road last month and has undergone surgery to repair the knee.
The Tigers forward is not expected to be available until the new year and Murphy admits it was a “tough period” for not only Martin, but his team-mates and coaches as well.
“With the rehab required on a MCL injury, it is most likely not until the new year that we will see George back playing again,” Murphy told LeicesterTigers.com
“The timing was unfortunate for him, for us, for everyone and it was a tough period in the immediacy after he did the knee against Irish.”
“He had impressed from the first day we returned to training in June and, for a 19-year-old, was standing out among senior, more experienced players, which earned him the opportunities he got when we began playing again.
“Injuries happen and George was certainly disappointed at the nature and timing of the knee injury but, he will be back and is in good hands with our medical team.
“George has a long career ahead and this small blip will only strengthen him moving forward.”
Porter was taken from the field in the win over Northampton Saints for a Head Injury Assessment (HIA), which the outside-back failed in the changing room and did not return to field.
The 23-year-old passed all required protocols following the match and was deemed fit and available for selection for the club’s quarter-final against Castres at Welford Road, which was cancelled.
Murphy, when asked about Porter, said: “He’s absolutely fine.”
“He got a head knock in the win over Saints, we didn’t bring him back on on the advice of the medical staff and since then, they have been his biggest advocates, after he passed all required tests.
“Guy is available to take on Toulon, if selected, and was available to take on Castres too last weekend.”
The Tigers back rower will undergo surgery on a knee injury this week and is unavailable for the side’s trip to France in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Taufua has made 14 appearances in his debut season in Leicester, including two as a replacement in the European competition and Murphy said it was “disappointing” to be without his experience for the trip across the channel.
“We are disappointed we won’t have JT with us for the trip to Toulon and, most likely, for the remaining Prem fixtures this season,” Murphy said.
“He’s an experienced player, who has had an interrupted debut season at Tigers and we’re confident has plenty ahead of him in a Leicester shirt.
"We're also very fortunate to have the quality we do in the back row to select from, without Jordan available.
“Jordan has been around long enough to know what is required of him in getting his knee right after this week’s op and we’re certain we will see him back, raring to go, when he’s recovered.”
After missing the side’s two most recent outings, against Northampton at Welford Road and away to Wasps, George Ford, Tommy Reffell and Jaco Taute were named to return to action in last weekend’s cancelled quarter-final.
And, speaking about the trio, Murphy added: “Look, every cloud has a silver lining, and we have every confidence that George, Jaco and Tommy would have got through the Castres fixture without any issues, an extra week off does afford them a little more time.”
“They all worked hard to be fit and wanted to play the game, we all wanted to play the game, but what has happened has happened and now the focus for them, for all of us, is on Saturday’s game in Toulon.”