Ospreys: Richard Hibbard doubt for French examinations
RICHARD Hibbard could miss the Ospreys' pivotal Heineken Cup double-header with Toulouse after a shoulder injury ruled the hooker out for the rest of Wales's autumn series.
The Ospreys' player of the year in 2011-12 is the latest to join the creaking treatment table at the Liberty Stadium, with Alun Wyn Jones, Adam Jones and Joe Rees already facing lengthy spells on the sidelines.
Hibbard was replaced in the first half of Friday's 26-19 defeat to Samoa after damaging the AC joint of his shoulder following a heavy collision.
The injury is expected to keep the 28-year-old out of action for weeks rather than months, but he is a doubt for the Ospreys' two matches against French heavyweights Toulouse in December.
Having lost their last Heineken Cup encounter to Leicester, the Ospreys' involvement in Europe's premier competition for this season hangs in the balance.
A defeat to Toulouse could prove fatal to their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages, and their chances of claiming two victories against the French outfit have been dented by this spate of injuries.
The Ospreys have been particularly badly affected in the pack, with lock Ian Evans another who could be out of action.
Wales medical staff are assessing a knee injury which forced the 28-year-old off at half-time during the loss to Samoa, and it is not yet known whether he will be available to face New Zealand on Saturday or Australia the following weekend.
There is more encouraging news regarding Dan Biggar. The fly-half was substituted in the first half against Samoa after damaging his shoulder when cleared out of a ruck by Samoan lock Teofilo Paulo.
His injury is similar to Hibbard's, but is thought to be less serious, and Wales are hopeful the in-form No. 10 could still feature in the series.
Meanwhile, Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies and hooker Matthew Rees are set to return to full training with the Wales squad.
Davies has been nursing a groin injury since the Scarlets' Heineken Cup defeat to Clermont Auvergne last month, while regional colleague Rees missed the Samoa clash because of a calf strain.
With Ken Owens the only fully fit senior hooker in the squad another Scarlet, Kirby Myhill, has been called up to train with the senior players. He has been joined by Blues lock Lou Reed, with the former Scarlets man providing cover for Evans.