RUGBY: Bath's Louw set for return against Saints in European final

Wiltshire Times: Francois Louw Francois Louw

SOUTH African international Francois Louw is poised to return for Bath's Amlin Challenge Cup final against Northampton in Cardiff on Friday night (8pm).

Head coach Mike Ford today confirmed that the 28 year old flanker would be fit to take on the Saints, after recovering from the ankle ligament damage that has kept him sidelined for nearly two months.

Louw was injured in the Aviva Premiership win at London Irish at the end of March but is likely to be restored to Bath's back row as the club try to win their first major piece of silverware since this competition in 2008.

Ford said: "He’s huge for us. He is a world-class player, he’s a leader and he’s going to come back fresh as he’s had a few weeks off. He’s been chomping at the bit. We possibly could have risked him against Quins (in the Aviva Premiership on May 10) but decided not to.

“He’s pretty desperate to get out there and win, so it’s fantastic news for us that he’s back in consideration.”

Wiltshire hooker Tom Dunn could find himself pitched into action against Northampton, if Argentina international Eusebio Guinazo doesn't come through the concussion protocols this week after sustaining a blow against Harlequins.

Academy youngster Tom Woolstencroft would come in on the bench in the event of Guinazo not making it.

Rob Webber and Ross Batty are already ruled out because of knee and shoulder problems, although Ford indicated that Webber, who has linked up with the England squad, still has a chance of making his country's tour to New Zealand at the end of the month, rating the ex-Wasps man's chances at 70-30.

Ford added: "They want to deal with him every day so they can make that call on whether they take him or not. That’s fine. He can’t play for us so let him get out there and be in their hands with their physios.

“I’m hoping he makes it because he deserves to. We’ve got our fingers crossed for him.”

Bath are showing the game live on screens at the Rec on Friday evening as part of a free Amlin Challenge Cup party.

The Swift Half bar will be set up on the pitch with a happy hour from 6-7pm with entry via the Riverside, William Street and Sports Centre gates.

MORE BATH RUGBY NEWS & REACTION AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT AND IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES

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