Following Lisfranc injury, B.C. Lions’ Canadian QB Nathan Rourke believes he’ll be back ‘ahead of the curve’

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke is going to tackle his rehab with the same determination that made him this season’s must-see CFL attraction.

Rourke suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot in the fourth quarter of the Lions’ win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 11. He was injured on a sack by Riders’ defensive lineman Pete Robertson.

“I’ve had major surgery before, I had a labrum tear in 2018 and was ahead of schedule. I have the right people around me here again and got a pretty good work ethic, I’m sure I’ll be back and ahead of the curve on that, too,” Rourke said.

“I felt something that I hadn’t felt before, I felt a pop or something like that,” Rourke said. “It was a lot better than I expected and I think it’s still a lot more milder than some Lisfranc injuries. That’s all positive but it certainly was something that I thought was bad and the pain was excruciating.”

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

“I can’t put any weight on it. I’m wearing a boot and that’s the only way that I can get around — it’s pretty swollen right now. Trying to wait to get the swelling down before we get to surgery,” Rourke said.

The injury is a disappointing pause to what was becoming a season for the ages authored by the young Canadian signal caller. Rourke leads all quarterbacks in every major statistical category, including passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage while seemingly being poised to become the first Canadian quarterback to win the Most Outstanding Player award since Russ Jackson in 1969.

The Lions are the surprise team of this CFL season, sitting second in the West Division with an 8-1 record. B.C.’s only loss so far was to the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Not being able to see how far this Lions team could have gone with him leading the way is what Rourke is truly disappointed by most.

“I am aware of how special this group is and not being able to be a part of it is a huge letdown. I wanted to be able to finish it out with those guys and see where this team could go,” the 24-year-old said.

With Rourke out for the foreseeable future, fellow Canadian quarterback Michael O’Connor takes control of the Lions’ offence. The University of British Columbia product was selected in the third round of the 2019 CFL Draft by the Toronto Argonauts, appearing in nine games as a rookie while completing 15-of-25 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown. He signed with the Calgary Stampeders ahead of the 2021 season, dressing in six games without ever seeing the field.

“I sent him a word of encouragement. He doesn’t need it. He’s a very highly driven guy, he’s got a great group like I’ve been saying and he’ll be fine. They won’t skip a beat out there,” Rourke said.

The mental side of no longer being out on the field with teammates can be almost as devastating as the physical aspects of dealing with a long-term injury. That’s what faces Rourke over the weeks ahead as he works towards returning to action.

“Injuries are always difficult, I’ve had a significant surgery and recovery period before. That was a challenge definitely from the mental side, this will be no different,” Rourke said.

“Seeing the people I need to talk to, making sure that I am getting everything off my chest, making sure I’m in a good mental headspace because I think that’s the majority of the battle during the process.”

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.