Bath’s aspirations for this season and Wales’ 2017 Six Nations hopes have taken a massive blow, as Todd Blackadder today confirmed that Taulupe Faletau is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
The Bath director of rugby told BBC Sport Wales that Faletau will be out for a minimum of 12 weeks thanks to a knee injury that he suffered when Mathieu Bastareaud crashed into him after entering a ruck from the side during Bath’s dramatic Champions Cup defeat to Toulon on Saturday.
Faletau, who missed almost three months of the 2016-2017 season as a result of a similar injury, has an appointment with a specialist on Friday to see if surgery is required to repair the medial ligament damage. Should he be forced to go under the knife, Faletau’s projected recovery period will be extended a further four weeks.
At the earliest, Faletau will be out until early March, meaning that he will miss Wales’ Six Nations clashes with Scotland, England and Ireland. With Wales set to take on Italy on the 11th of March and France on the 17th, there is a good chance that his role in those games will also be reduced to that of a spectator.
The loss of the standout back row forward is a tough one for a Welsh outfit that has already been hit by injuries to key players like influential flanker Sam Warburton and centre Jonathan Davies.
Bastareaud was not penalized for his tackle on Faletau, nor were Bath awarded a penalty. The English side were six points ahead at the time but ended up losing the came 24-20 thanks to a late moment of magic from Toulon substitute Anthony Belleau.