Mercer ma­jor doubt to face up to Le­in­ster

Bath Chronicle - - SPORT -

Zach Mercer is a ma­jor doubt to face Le­in­ster in the Heineken Cham­pi­ons Cup on Satur­day. The Bath Rugby No8 hurt his left thigh and knee in the first half of the 7-7 draw with Sale Sharks at the Rec. He had a com­pres­sion ban­dage on and was us­ing crutches to get around the Far­leigh House train­ing ground on­mon­day. Todd Black­ad­der said the in­jury was not thought to be a se­ri­ous one. “He’s pretty sore,” said the di­rec­tor of rugby. “He’s got a corker just above his knee and given his me­dial a tweak. He’ll be touch and go for the week­end.” With Paul Grant still ab­sent with a calf prob­lem, Fran­cois Louw is the most likely can­di­date to wear the No8 shirt against the top Ir­ish prov­ince and reign­ing Euro­pean cham­pi­ons. He has played there for South Africa and packed down there once Tom El­lis came on for Mercer on Sun­day. Jamie Roberts, Dave Attwood and Tom Dunn are all fit and avail­able; hav­ing not been se­lected to play against the Sharks last week­end. Jonathan Joseph con­tin­ues to work his way back to fit­ness af­ter a bro­ken foot and lig­a­ment dam­age, but sore­ness in one of his Achilles’ ten­dons means he won’t be ready in time to face ram­pant Le­in­ster, who have put more than 100 points on Ospreys and Dragons without their in­ter­na­tion­als in re­cent weeks. “I’m not say­ing it’s a set­back at the mo­ment,” Black­ad­der said. “These things can be prob­lem­atic the closer you get to your come­back be­cause of the work­load that goes into it.” Aled Brew and Taulupe Fale­tau are still on track to re­turn from frac­tured fore­arms at some point this month, but will not be ready this week­end. Rhys Pri­est­land is ex­pected to re­turn from a knee in­jury to­wards the end of the month. Mean­while, Tom Homer (shoul­der), An­thony Wat­son (Achilles) and Ben Obano (knee) are still on the in­jured list.

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