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Aviva Premiership
Hape battling to save career
ESPNscrum Staff
April 12, 2012
London Irish's Shontayne Hape drives into the Exeter defence, London Irish v Exeter Chiefs, Aviva Premiership, Madejski Stadium, Reading, England, December 27, 2011
London Irish fans will hope they will have the chance to see Shontayne Hape lining up for them again © Getty Images
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England centre Shontayne Hape faces the possibility of early retirement as he battles to recover from a recurring knee injury.

The London Irish back has only featured 12 times for the Exiles following his summer switch from Bath and is currently on the sidelines. He suffered a cruciate knee-ligament injury with the Bradford Bulls back in 2007 and has been struggling to recover ever since. And Exiles director of rugby Brian Smith has conceded that Hape faces a battle to save his career.

"Shontayne has got a potentially career-ending knee injury so he won't be playing for us for the rest of the season," Smith told the Reading Post. "He has got decisions to make now as to whether he tries to play again.

"He is seeking medical advice. He has had knee reconstructions and my understanding is that he is looking at heading over to the United States to try to rehab his knee, then he will make his call as to whether he will play again, but he has a very bad knee."

With various reports suggesting that Toby Booth will depart from the Exiles at the end of the season, along with coach Mike Catt, Smith has moved to deny that London Irish are struggling financially. London rivals Wasps are desperately searching for a new owner and Smith has denied that the Exiles are in a similar predicament.

"There is some speculation that London Irish are falling on hard times. That is not true," Smith said. "London Irish has a big rugby budget. There is £5.5 million spent on rugby.

"We just need to make sure we are spending at least £4.2m of that on players because that is what the salary cap is. We have had to look at tightening our belt in some areas in order to make sure that we put the quality on the pitch."

"So we are reviewing anyone who is not on a fixed-term contract as well as all the behind-the-scenes structure to make sure we provide a terrific support structure for a quality squad. There is no problem in how much money we have to spend. We just have to spend it in the right place.

"Our intention is to spend the salary cap on players and the off-field stuff is under review. We will make an announcement when we have finalised things.

"At the moment we are still sorting through that process."

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