BC Lions Nathan Rourke to undergo foot surgery, out until ‘end of season’

“The club remains hopeful that the operation and subsequent rehabilitation will open the door to a return at the end of the season”

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The BC Lions will be without star quarterback Nathan Rourke for several weeks.

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The team announced on Sunday afternoon that the 24-year-old center needed surgery after being diagnosed with what the Lions call a “Lisfranc sprain” in his right foot. He was injured early in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 28-10 win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders when he was sacked by defensive lineman Pete Robertson.

The Lions did not give an exact timeline for a return, other than to say in a press release that they remain “hopeful that surgery and subsequent rehabilitation will open the door for a return at the end of of the season”.

British Columbia is 8-1. Their 18-game regular season ends Oct. 28 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.


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Rourke’s 3,281 passing yards lead the CFL, as do his 25 passing touchdowns, 125.1 passing efficiency rating and 79.2 percent completion rate. He had been named one of the CFL’s top three players of the week five times in his first eight games.

“I don’t want to downplay Nathan’s season because he’s playing at an all-star caliber level,” Lions co-general manager Neil McEvoy said Sunday afternoon. “But Nathan didn’t catch the ball. He didn’t tackle. We have other guys. It’s a team. We have confidence in the players we have. Nathan was a big part of our success, but he wasn’t the only one.

“It’s professional football. Injuries happen. Nobody is going to complain to us. Nobody is going to give us a break.

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Lions medical staff contacted doctors from NFL and Major League Baseball teams to find the best course of action for this specific injury. McEvoy didn’t know exactly how many were consulting, only able to say it was “multiple”.

“We wanted to make sure we knew what was best for Nathan Rourke,” McEvoy said.

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons explains that a Lisfranc injury results “if the bones of the midfoot are broken or the ligaments that support the midfoot are torn. The severity of a Lisfranc injury can vary widely – from a simple injury involving one midfoot joint to a complex injury involving numerous midfoot joints and fractures.

The most critical ligament in the midfoot is the ligament of Lisfanc, between the medial cuneiform bone and the base of the second toe bone. If this ligament is sprained or torn, then the midfoot becomes unstable.

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Corral suffered a ‘significant’ injury, according to Lisfranc’s team during a preseason game Friday against the New England Patriots and it has been reported that he will miss all season.

BC Lions quarterback Michael O'Connor, left, kicks the ball as Calgary Stampeders' Darius Williams closes in during first half preseason football action from the CFL in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, May 28, 2022.
BC Lions quarterback Michael O’Connor, left, kicks the ball as Calgary Stampeders’ Darius Williams closes in during first half preseason football action from the CFL in Calgary, Alberta on Saturday, May 28, 2022. Photo by Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press

Michael O’Connor, 26, the former UBC Thunderbirds star who signed with the Lions as a free agent in February after supporting the Calgary Stampeders last season, will start in place of Rourke when the Lions return to action on Friday at home against Saskatchewan.

O’Connor was 5 of 5 for 36 yards Friday on cleanup duty. He’s 9 of 12 for 63 yards with one interception this season and he’s 24 of 37 for 236 yards, with one touchdown and one interception, for his three-year career.

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“We’ve got three good guys on the lineup and we’ve got four quarterbacks and we’re investing time in them,” head coach Rick Campbell said. “Michael’s been in this league (a while) and when he came in we said he was going to bring it home for us. He did everything the right way, ran the clock, did all those things. He’s a good player. That’s why we signed him.

Antonio Pipkin, 27, will step up from the top rope to be his replacement. He’s 43 of 112 for 208 yards, with four touchdowns and nine interceptions, during his five-year CFL career. He was lucky enough to quarterback for BC on Friday and scored two touchdowns on his 14-yard, four-carry outing.

Rourke, who was born in Victoria, grew up largely in Oakville, Ont., and played college ball at Ohio, is in his second year with the Lions. He was named BC’s starting center when veteran Michael Reilly retired last year. It was so popular with BC that the team store sold out its replica jersey at one point.

He’s been named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player for the past three weeks and five times this season.

  1. BC Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke (12) is helped off the field after the game on Friday August 19, 2022 in Regina.  Photo: Troy Fleece, Postmedia

    BC Lions prepare for life without Nathan Rourke

  2. BC Lions wide receiver Lucky Whitehead (7) runs a long way for a touchdown against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday August 19, 2022 in Regina.

    Lions 28, Roughriders 10: Victory, but the cost remains to be seen


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Charles P. Patton