European Rugby Champions Cup
Matt Giteau misses three weeks with continuing groin problem
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
January 9, 2016
Matt Giteau
Matt Giteau© Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Matt Giteau will miss at least three matches for Toulon, commencing with their crucial European Rugby Champions Cup fixture against Bath on Sunday, as he continues to struggle with the groin injury he sustained in last season's Top 14 semi-final against Stade Francais.

Quade Cooper is likely to replace his Wallabies team-mate, with Frederic Michalak to be hurried back from injury in order to provide extra cover.

"Apparently it's not a groin strain," Toulon coach Bernard Laporte said of Giteau's problem. "But when he plays, he suffers after half-time."

Toulon are the three-time defending European Cup champions but defeat by Bath will make qualification for the knockout stages almost impossible.

Toulon and Bath have both won two of their three games but they each trail Pool 5 leaders Wasps by six points as neither have claimed a bonus point; defeat at the Bath Rec will make it virtually impossible for the losers to top the pool while also rendering negligible their hopes of claiming one of the two berths for group runners up.

Toulon are also struggling in the Top 14, having lost five of their 12 league games to stand fourth on the ladder but Cooper said the team would come good in a season in which they lost their star players to Rugby World Cup duty.

"You've got guys coming from different countries, from the World Cup, everyone's coming together and we've only played a handful of games together," Cooper said.

"We'll get better and I'm sure that we'll enjoy it more and the spectators will enjoy it more the further down the year we get. "As athletes, we want to win every game. No matter who you're playing, you want to win. This game [against Bath] is no different, we know there's a lot on the line."

Former Springboks back-rower Juan Smith echoed Cooper's comments, noting that the team was also still coming to terms with the retirement of Carl Hayman, Bakkies Botha and Ali Williams after last season.

"We've got a lot of guys back from the World Cup," Smith said. "The team just needs some time to slot together. We're an awesome team. We just need some time to play with one another and get that confidence. "You don't win this competition in February, it's a long season. We need to play our best games in May when the semi-finals and finals come."

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