Canadian QB Nathan Rourke to undergo surgery for Lisfranc sprain, Lions ‘hopeful’ for late season return

Photo courtesy: Tiffany Luke/B.C. Lions

B.C. Lions’ quarterback Nathan Rourke will require surgery for the injury sustained to his right foot in Friday’s win over Saskatchewan, putting his chances for a return in 2022 in jeopardy.

The Lions revealed the diagnosis with the following statement on Sunday.

“After extensive consultation with team doctors and foot specialists, Nathan was diagnosed with a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot. It has been determined that the best course of action is for Nathan to undergo surgery, which will happen very soon. The club remains hopeful that the surgery and subsequent rehab will open the door for a return late in the season. Michael O’Connor will start at quarterback on Friday against Saskatchewan.”

Lisfranc surgery requires that patients be non-weight bearing on their injured foot for six-to-eight weeks following the procedure. Total recovery time can range anywhere from three-to-six months, according to most medical sources.

Rourke suffered the injury on Friday night after being sacked by Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defensive end Pete Robertson early in the fourth quarter. The quarterback’s lower right leg was twisted while being brought to the ground deep in B.C. territory. He was helped off the field without putting any weight on the leg and B.C.’s training staff removed his shoe to assess his foot after he reached the bench.

The second-year passer completed 22-of-31 pass attempts for 375 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions through just over three quarters of work against Saskatchewan. He also ran the ball three times for 63 yards, as his team one 28-10.

Rourke has quickly become the front-runner to win Most Outstanding Player this year after completing 79.2 percent of his passes for 3,281 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in nine games. He was on pace to shatter the single-season CFL record for completion percentage and passing touchdowns.

His replacement O’Connor will be making his first career start this week. The UBC product was drafted in the third round of the 2019 CFL Draft by the Toronto Argonauts, appearing in nine games as a rookie and completing 15-of-25 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders ahead of the 2021 season but failed to win the team’s backup job, dressing in six games without ever seeing the field.

The native of Orleans, Ontario, has served as the Lions’ backup for all nine games this season, completing 9-of-12 passes for 63 yards and an interception in garbage-time action, while adding a rushing touchdown. In two preseason appearances, he was 30-of-38 passing for 302 yards and two touchdowns.

27-year-old journeyman Antonio Pipkin will serve as the team’s primary backup, while promising youngster Kevin Thomson could come off the injured list to round out the QB depth chart.