Gloucester boss George Skivington does not expect injured Welsh star Louis Rees-Zammit to play again for the club before this season’s Guinness Six Nations Championship kicks off.
The 21-year-old wing faces a race against the clock to qualify for Wales’ Opening of the Six Nations on February 4 against Ireland – and the first game for which Warren Gatland is responsible again.
He suffered an ankle injury during Gloucester’s defeat to the Gallagher Premiership at Leicester on Christmas Eve.
And Rees-Zammit will miss local and European matches this month against Saracens, Leinster, Bordeaux-Begles and Exeter.
“It’s floating around right now, which is good news, but (he) is definitely not coming back anytime soon,” Skivington said.
“I don’t have a definite return date because it will be around the Six Nation era.
“For my part, I plan on not having him here for a few weeks.
“I’m not sure exactly what week of Six Nations he will be gearing up for, but he won’t be playing for us in the next few weeks anyway.
“He’s been screened. The paramedics are at the beginning of that. I know he won’t be here for the Six Nations so it’s up to Wales to decide whether he will play for them.”
With 22 matches, the Rees-Zammit could be a great offensive weapon for Gatland.
His try-scoring prowess and game-breaking ability were showcased during an international career that also saw him win the British and Irish Lions selection for the 2021 South Africa tour.
Skivington added: “I’m being absolutely honest on my part. I know it’s not available to me until the Six Nations era, and I’m on my way.
“I hope Six Nations will be available at some point and beyond. I have a lot of other injuries and people involved and I leave that to others.
“Hopefully it will be ready for the start of the Six Nations, but I have not been given a date.
“Is it because it’s one of the injuries he can start with faster – he’s a young, healthy man and I hope he gets better as quickly as anyone else – or is it a debate (about) whether he plays this game or not? I’m not really sure about that.”
After Ireland, Wales will face Scotland in Edinburgh before hosting England seven days later on 25 February.