Bath hit by double back-row injury blow

Bath's Ben Skirving is shackled by the Exeter defence, JP Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens Series, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, July 30, 2010 Getty Images

Bath are facing the rest of 2012 without two of their star back-rowers, according to reports.

Carl Fearns and Ben Skirving both face six or seven weeks out, according to the Western Daily Press, with Fearns sidelined following ankle surgery and Skirving struggling with a thumb injury. With Francois Louw away on international duty with the Springboks, Bath will turn to academy graduates Guy Mercer, Will Skuse and Josh Ovens over the coming weeks alongside former Scotland No.8 Simon Taylor to fill the back-row berths.

"The form of Will Skuse has been a godsend to us," Hatley said. "He has done really well and it's been good to see Josh Ovens and Guy Mercer really grabbing their opportunity after some good performances for Bath United. These young guys are fantastic - they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm."

Bath drafted in Nick Koster back in October but he is yet to play for the club. Assistant coach Neal Hatley is hopeful that Koster will be running out at the Rec sooner rather than later. "We are making sure that Nick is fully prepared physically and up to speed with all the calls," Hatley said. "Nick has good hands, is very quick, and we should be seeing him for Bath before too long."