Taulupe Faletau a major doubt for Wales’s November Tests
Lions and Bath number eight suffered a broken arm during clash with Exeter
Taulupe Faletau is a major doubt for Wales’s November internationals with a broken arm. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Taulupe Faletau is a serious doubt for Wales’s autumn internationals after the Bath director of rugby, Todd Blackadder, confirmed the number eight has suffered a broken arm and requires surgery.
Faletau suffered the injury during Bath’s defeat by Exeter on Friday and, despite briefly playing on, he was taken the hospital that night. In what comes as a considerable blow for Wales a subsequent scan has revealed he needs to have a plate inserted.
Wales begin their autumn campaign against Scotland on November 3rd followed by matches in successive weeks against Australia, Tonga and then South Africa.
Blackadder could not give an exact timeframe but acknowledged Faletau’s layoff would be “anything from four weeks or above” meaning he is up against it to feature at all when factoring in rehabilitation time.
Faletau’s close friend Billy Vunipola has suffered two similar injuries recently and was sidelined for around three months on both occasions. It also means Bath will be without Faletau for their European double header which begins against Toulouse on Saturday, with Zach Mercer standing by to deputise at number eight.
If there is any silver lining for Bath it is that they will be spared the headache over Faletau’s release for the Scotland fixture, which falls outside the World Rugby international window. Last year Bath were fined £60,000 by Premiership Rugby for allowing Faletau to play for Wales against South Africa, which also took place outside the allotted window.
“[TAULUPE] has got a broken arm, he’s got a radial break. He’s going to have a plate put in so it’s anything from four weeks or above,” said Blackadder. “[HE’S] a Lion, he steps up, he’s a big-game player. It’s just one of those unfortunate things but it’s a good opportunity for Zach Mercer, who has been playing well all season.”
Meanwhile the Champions Cup organisers have confirmed that there will be a clampdown on high tackles in this season’s competition. The EPCR chairman, Simon Halliday, revealed that the EPCR’s referees chief, Joël Jutge, has gone to the extent of speaking to broadcasters, including BT Sport, in an effort to steer pundits and commentators away from stoking the debate that has raged in England after Will Spencer’s red card for Leicester last month.
“We are doing our best to make this right. We can’t afford to take it lightly, because the legal world is coming,” said Halliday. “Whether you like it or not, it is coming. It’s happened in the US. There are certain things people are telling me are no longer allowed in NFL, which we do over here.”