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Bath’s Taulupe Faletau set to start for Wales against South Africa

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Taulupe Faletau is set to be the only one of Wales’ Aviva Premiership-based players who will start Saturday’s clash against South Africa.

Press Association Sport understands that Harlequins centre Jamie Roberts was due to report back for training with his club on Tuesday. Quins host European champions Saracens in five days’ time.

But it is thought that Quins, Roberts and his representative were involved in discussions during the last couple of days after the player initially intimated a desire to remain with Wales.

Wales’ preparations, meanwhile, have been dealt a double setback with lock Jake Ball and flanker Justin Tipuric both being released from the squad due to injury.

The Welsh Rugby Union announced that Ball suffered a dislocated shoulder during the 33-18 defeat against New Zealand three days ago and will undergo surgery.

Tipuric suffered a thigh muscle injury in the same match and will be heading back to his regional team the Ospreys for ongoing treatment.

Tipuric had a thigh problem earlier in the autumn series, missing the appointments with Australia and Georgia as a result, while he went on as a substitute against New Zealand.

RUGBYU-WAL-NZL

Bath could be sanctioned by Premiership Rugby if, as expected, Faletau plays against the Springboks in Cardiff.

Wales’ Under Armour Series finale falls outside the World Rugby autumn Test match window, and England’s Premiership clubs have a blanket approach not to release players for those games.

That policy remains unchanged and in force this week, but Bath number eight Faletau is currently with the Wales squad and viewed as being available for Test team selection.

It is further understood that 69 times-capped Faletau has a clause in his Bath contract giving him full release for Wales.

Bath Rugby v Gloucester Rugby - Aviva Premiership

Bath play Premiership leaders Exeter on Saturday, when two other Wales squad members – Bath fly-half Rhys Priestland and Chiefs prop Tomas Francis – are likely to be involved in domestic action.

In terms of any Bath punishment, a precedent was set when Premiership Rugby fined Northampton £60,000 after they released Wales wing George North to face Australia outside the 2013 autumn window.

Gloucester back Owen Williams, meanwhile, is thought to be back with his club ahead of Saturday’s clash against London Irish, but it is believed that Cardiff Blues prop Scott Andrews, who was called up as injury cover earlier this month and is currently on loan at Bath, is available.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is due to name his starting line-up on Thursday, when there could be a debut for Scarlets centre Hadleigh Parkes.

Leicester Tigers v Scarlets - European Rugby Champions Cup

New Zealand-born Parkes, 30, completes a three-year residency qualification this week to be available for Wales.

There is currently no update on scrum-half Rhys Webb, who suffered a head knock against the All Blacks and went off inside the first 10 minutes, while with Ball sidelined, Dragons lock Cory Hill is favourite to partner captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row.

Wales have won their last two home games against South Africa, either side of losing to them in the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals at Twickenham.

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Topics:
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
Bath
Aviva Premiership
Rugby Union

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