Fijian star Andy Bulumakau likely to miss Gloucester Rugby's final World Club Sevens trophy charge
FIJIAN flyer Andy Bulumakau is expected to miss Gloucester’s push for World Club Sevens glory on Sunday.
The 21-year-old pace ace produce a stunning finish in the right corner in the late stages of Gloucester’s decisive 27-17 victory over Western Province.
That five-try win tied up top spot in Pool A for Gloucester on day one of the weekend-long inaugural world short-format competition at Twickenham.
Coach Rob Thirlby’s squad will now move into the knockout top-tier cup contest on Sunday.
But they are likely to be without star man Bulumakau, who was shoulder-charged in the act of scoring Gloucester’s fourth score against Western Province.
Gloucester’s frustrated management confirmed they will seek to cite the tackle that ended Drybrook-registered Bulumakau’s action on Saturday – and likely his entire tournament.
Bulumakau is expected to leave Forest of Dean club Drybrook this summer after completing his studies at Hartpury College.
And there is every chance he could be recruited to the Gloucester Academy.
Arch finisher Steph Reynolds suffered a stomach upset, and was withdrawn just minutes into Gloucester’s opening match against Moscow.
But Thirlby hopes to have the Newport-born 19-year-old Gloucester Academy star back in service on Sunday.
Minor injuries to Gareth Evans and captain Martin Thomas are also not thought to be serious.
Gloucester can draw in a replacement for Bulumakau if his tournament is over prematurely, from the 12-strong squad of Gilbert Barbarians players.
Thirlby explained: “I don’t think Andy’s in great shape to be honest, but we don’t really know the extent of any of the injuries yet.
“I think Gareth will be okay, and I hope Martin’s shoulder knock will be superficial too.
“I think Andy’s struggling to be honest.
“But touch-wood hopefully Steph will be back after his rest today, hopefully that will help get him over his dodgy stomach.
“If a player’s out of the tournament there’s a pool of ten or 12 players from the Gilbert Barbarians squad that we can draw on if we need to.
“We could have pulled someone in for Steph, but that would have meant Steph couldn’t have played on Sunday.
“So we decided to dig it out with 11 men today, hoping that Steph will be fine.
“It was definitely worth taking that risk.
“If Andy’s not great and not available for Sunday, then we will bring someone in, just to strengthen us back to 12.
“There are some good players there, so we’ll look at that pool if we have to.”
Gloucester opened their Pool A account with a patchy 19-12 defeat to the VVA Moscow Region side.
And at 24-12 down in the second half against New York, the Cherry and Whites were in danger of failing to qualify for Sunday’s top-tier knockout action.
Late tries for Dan Robson and Cinderford wing Nev Codlin changed all that though, with Robson’s conversion edging Gloucester home 26-24.
Throw in the 27-17 Western Province victory, and Gloucester secured their cup contest berth for Sunday.
A relieved Thirlby praised his side for improving throughout the first day – but then warned the Gloucester men not to rest on their laurels.
He continued: “We had some hard work to do after that first game and we pulled it off.
“With six minutes to go we were effectively out of the cup competition, but then the comeback was unreal.
“There are some seriously good sevens teams here, so we’ve had to raise the level from the JP Morgan Sevens.
“That took a little while, but as the day progressed we seemed to improve throughout.
“And that’s very pleasing.
“We really hit our straps in that final game.
“But it’s important that we come out firing from the off on Sunday, it’s knockout rugby and we can’t afford any mistakes.
“Everything starts from scratch, and we can’t take anything for granted.
“Playing two days back to back is tough, and not many of our guys have experience of that.
“A lot of the other teams have players with experience of the international World Sevens Series so they are well-versed in that.
“And so we have to rise to that challenge too.”