Ex-All Black Tawera Kerr-Barlow may play European Cup final with broken hand
La Rochelle's former All Black halfback Tawera Kerr-Barlow is striving to play in the European Champions Cup final despite breaking his hand. A protective glove used in the sport of hurling may allow Tawera Kerr-Barlow to play in the European Champions Cup final with a broken hand – but fellow ex-All Black Victor Vito faces “a massive race against time. Kerr-Barlow hasn’t played since breaking two bones in his hand in French club La Rochelle’s semifinal win over Racing 92 earlier in May. But La Rochelle director of rugby Ronan O’Gara is refusing to rule the former Chiefs star out of the final against Leinster in Dublin on Marseille on Saturday (Sunday NZ time). Māori All Black Ihaia West got a last-gasp match winner as French club joins Leinster in gold medal game. Irishman O’Gara said at a press conference this week that an Irish innovation might allow Kerr-Barlow to play against Johnny Sexton’s Irish club in arguably the biggest game of club rugby on the global calendar. READ MORE: * Six Kiwis set for European Champions Cup rugby final as Ihaia West scores winning try * James Lowe scores a double as Leinster beat European champions Toulouse to reach final * Toulouse win dramatic European Champions Cup rugby penalty shootout against Munster * Jerome Kaino's Toulouse to face former Hurricanes wing Ben Lam in French rugby semis * 'Stoked' ex-All Blacks Jerome Kaino and Charlie Faumuina win European Champions Cup final A close-up of a hurling glove often used to protect hand injuries. “I need to get some hurling advice and try and get one of those Mycro gloves.
“Depending on his pain threshold, depending on his grip of the ball and depending on, well, the legality of it I think is okay. Irish wing Tommy Bowe wearing a hurling glove in training during the British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia in 2013. Stockists describe Mycro gloves – used in Gaelic sports – as lightweight, compact with grips on all inside surfaces. But, while Kerr-Barlow could yet go to head-to-head with Leinster’s Kiwi halfback Jamison Gibson-Park, Vito’s chances of making the final game of his career seem a little less rosy. The 35-year-old former Hurricanes favourite aggravated an ankle injury in a French Top 14 game last weekend and was wearing a moon boot. Victor Vito on the charge for La Rochelle in the 2021 European Champions Cup final. “Victor is struggling with an ankle injury and he played 43 minutes in his final home game and had a kick-off reception and got his foot caught and someone fell on him in an awkward position,’’ O’Gara said. “He is sore today and in a moon boot aVictor Vito on the charge for La Rochelle against Toulouse in last year’s European Champions Cup final. Kerr-Barlow and Vito – teammates in the All Blacks’ 2015 Rugby World Cup winning squad – would be desperate to play against Leinster.
They were part of the La Rochelle teams that last year’s European Champions Cup and French Top 14 finals to Toulouse. Vito, a 33-cap All Black who has been with La Rochelle since helping the Hurricanes win the 2016 Super Rugby title, has said he plans to retire at the end of this season. Kerr-Barlow – still only 31 – joined La Rochelle in 2018 after 29 tests for the All Blacks. Former Blues and Hurricanes first five-eighth Ihaia West and Timaru-born French test tighthead prop Uini Atonio are also in the La Rochelle squad. Despite doubts that Vito will be fit to pack down in the backrow with France’s Six Nations player of the year Grégory Alldritt, La Rochelle have been boosted by the return to fitness of giant former Wallabies lock Will Skelton. Big Will Skelton (La Rochelle) scrags Toulouse’s Antoine Dupont in the 2021 European Champions Cup final. The 30-year-old returned off the bench against Stade Francais last weekend. The Leinster squad includes New Zealand-born Ireland test wing James Lowe and Gibson-Park, the former Blues and Taranaki halfback now established as Ireland’s number one. Leinster thrashed Toulouse – La Rochelle’s tormentors last year – in the semifinals, but La Rochelle beat the Irish side 32-23 in last year’s semifinal after a dominant display by Skelton at the heart of the pack.
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