Bath and Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau facing lengthy injury lay-off
Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau faces up to eight weeks on the sidelines following a scan on his left knee, according to Bath's new director of rugby, Todd Blackadder.
The former All Black, speaking after Bath's 58-5 demolition of Newcastle, discounted any surgery for the 24-year-old who suffered medial ligament damage in the early minutes of last week's win at Northampton.
"He's had a scan this week. It's anything from six to eight (weeks)," Blackadder said.
That spells bad news for club and country, with Faletau now an apparent doubt for Wales' autumn internationals.
Bath will be without Scotland back row David Denton even longer.
Blackadder said the severity of Denton's hamstring tear in that game means that he would be missing for four months. The club are making efforts to bring last year's number eight and fans' favourite Leroy Houston back from Australia on loan.
On the eight-try performance against Newcastle, Blackadder said: "I'm just so pleased for our players. It was fantastic.
"It was a great atmosphere. The support here is unbelievable. You just feel the passion and commitment to the team. The support we got today was amazing. Long may it continue."
Blackadder paid tribute to two-try Semesa Rokoduguni's galvanising effect on the players around him.
"When he saw the opportunities he really went for it. That inspired our guys. Dave Attwood was one of our best today, too," Blackadder said.
"We'll celebrate and enjoy this tonight, a fantastic performance. It's great weather and the boys probably deserve a few quiet beers - and so they should."
Bath were ahead before being awarded a penalty try in the 30th minute when Vereniki Goneva was penalised for impeding Rokoduguni. They went from 6-0 at that stage, however, to a 32-0 interval lead.
Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards had no doubt who had most influence on the game, saying: "George Ford was by far the best player on the field. He was outstanding.
"But the penalty try changed the game entirely. The way we saw it, Niki (Goneva) was taken out but we haven't got all the angles the referee has.
"To capitulate in the way we did in the 10 minutes after that was poor from our point of view, the inability to react to it. So in that respect we've got to take it on the chin."
Apart from Ford's masterful performance, Richards also noted the physical challenge posed by the Bath pack.
He added: "They're a big side, absolutely massive. We struggled with that.
"We had nothing to lose in the second half but it took us until the last few minutes to break them down. We had opportunities but didn't take them.
"We're far better than we looked today. We had gone through pre-season unbeaten, which we hadn't done before and beat Sale last week.
"So we came down here on a bit of a high and got a wake-up call. Having said that, it's not going to be easy at home to Leicester next week."