New Zealand Rugby
Robbie Fruean faces further heart surgery
ESPN Staff
June 30, 2013
The Crusaders' Robbie Fruean runs the ball against the Bulls, Crusaders v Bulls, Super Rugby, AMI Stadium, Christchurch, March 16, 2013
Robbie Fruean has scored 16 tries for the Crusaders © Getty Images

Robbie Fruean will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season as he is set to undergo heart surgery. The Crusaders centre, 24, requires a further valve replacement as a result of rheumatic fever he suffered as 20-year-old. His cardiac function has been slowly deteriorating over the past six months, and his specialist has recommended further surgery at this point.

Crusaders team doctor Deborah Robinson said: "Robbie has been closely monitored over the past few months and in conjunction with his specialist team the decision has been made to withdraw him from the remainder of the season and to have surgery. While Robbie is facing major surgery he is otherwise fit & healthy which should stand him in good stead for his recovery."

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder said: "Robbie is a true inspiration to us all. He is positive about his upcoming surgery and is looking forward to getting his recovery underway. The Crusaders will miss his presence on the field plus all the laughter he brings to the team off the field. However, we are fully behind Robbie and our thoughts and prayers are with him.

"I have no doubt that if the surgery goes well Robbie will be back next year and will be a force to be reckoned with. He is a fantastic rugby player. I know it's been frustrating for him over the last few months that his body has not been able to perform to level he would like it to."

Fruean's rugby career was put temporarily on hold in 2009, when his pancarditis was first identified after rheumatic fever. He underwent open-heart surgery, but he debuted for Canterbury in the 2010 ITM Cup, and he was the joint leading try scorer and ITM Cup Player of the year in 2010 and 2012. He was selected for the Crusaders in 2010, since when he has won 61 Super Rugby caps and scored 16 tries. He also represented New Zealand in the 2007 Under-19 world championship-winning side, and he was named IRB Under 19 Player of the Year in that year.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand

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