By Ali Stokes
Grave news strikes Bristol Bears and Wasps fans this week as star signing Charles Piutau (Bristol) and reliable pivot Jimmy Gopperth (Wasps) sustain pre-season injuries.
Piutau has become a major doubt for the Premiership returnees season-opening fixture against Bath this Friday after being forced from the field during the first-half of Bristol's pre-season fixture against Irish outfit Connacht. The 26-year-old left the field with his arm in a sling as Bristol were handed a 12-14 defeat at the Ashton Gate Stadium.
“Charles’ injury is unlucky, but that’s why you have to have a large squad. We will need everybody over the course of the season,” Head Coach Pat Lam told the Bristol Post.
“We asked all the players to make life difficult for the coaches and we have got some serious selection headaches. The only way you win things is with a squad – it’s not about the individual, it’s about the team.
“Charles is getting his shoulder assessed and the medical team will go through everything, get the scans done, and when we know more, we’ll let everybody know. Injuries could easily happen to us next week or at any point.
“The last thing you want to do is put the players in cotton wool. They have to be ready, but at the same time freak incidents happen.”
Lam will likely turn to Australian international Luke Morahan or summer arrival from Ealing Trailfinders Luke Daniels as his next options in the 15 jersey.
Wasps boss Dai Young confirmed this morning that Gopperth is set for a race against time to return before the end of the season after undergoing surgery on an ACL injury.
While there is still hope for Bristol fans of a short recovery period for Piutau, Gopperth has been handed an estimated 6-9 month recovery period, leaving the 2016/17 Premiership finalists to rely on summer signings Billy Searle and Lima Sopoaga, the latter of whom did not arrive until this week.
Wasps frontrowers Jake Cooper-Woolley (prop) and TJ Harris (Hooker) are also set for extended periods in the medical department. Both men have undergone surgery on ruptured Biceps, with a recovery period of 6-8 weeks and 4-6 weeks respectively.