Lood de Jager, Sale’s World Cup winning lock, is facing his third shoulder reconstruction and could be out of the game for six months delivering a major blow to the Springboks and Sale Sharks.

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Steve Diamond watched his side slip to fourth in the Gallagher Premiership with a 37-22 home loss to Bath who moved into third place and then revealed the decision to send de Jager for surgery after he was injured in the win over Leicester which bent pins in his shoulder.

Worryingly for de Jager is that he had both shoulders reconstructed during 2019 and now he faces another lengthy rehabilitation period at the same time as RG Snyman, his fellow World Cup winning second row, is recovering from knee reconstruction after being hurt playing for Munster. It removes two key forwards from the Springbok ranks.

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Diamond will not be bringing in any new lock and will look to recent signing Cobus Wiese to fill the void created in the Sale second row which struggled to win line out ball against Bath with de Jager missing. Diamond said: “It’s not great news on Lood and he is going to have surgery next week. He will probably have a rebuild and be out for five to six months. We won’t get anyone in short term and Cobus Wiese can hopefully command our line out.

“We didn’t play well and Bath sorted us out at the line out and at this level if you can’t get set piece ball, get two yellow cards and give double figure penalties then maybe we have reached our level and are not good enough to be in the top four. That is what I have said to the lads. We fluffed our lines and its up to them how they react.”

Stuart Hooper, the Bath director of rugby, paid tribute to his team and two try Ben Spencer and said: “Getting the fourth try was brilliant and Ben Spencer leads the boys around the pitch and his game is genuinely World class. We have scored 100 plus points in eight days and a home semi-final is within reach but it is incredibly tight.”

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