Crusaders center Fruean faces heart surgery

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand Super Rugby team the Crusaders say center Robbie Fruean must undergo heart surgery and will miss the remainder of the three-nation tournament.

The 24-year-old Fruean needs a valve replacement to repair damage to his heart caused by rheumatic fever which he contracted four years ago.

Team doctor Deb Robinson said Fruean’s cardiac function has been deteriorating over the past six months and a specialist had recommended surgery.

Fruean underwent open-heart surgery in 2009 when he was diagnosed with pancarditis as a result of his earlier illness. Coach Todd Blackadder said Fruean was expected to make a full recovery and could return to Super Rugby next year.

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