Taulupe Faletau
Taulupe Faletau has played 86 games for Wales and five Tests for the British and Irish Lions on three tours

Wales number eight Taulupe Faletau should be fit in time for the start of the Six Nations, according to Bath director of rugby Stuart Hooper.

Faletau, who will join Cardiff next season, has not played since injuring an ankle during last summer’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

His most recent appearance came as a replacement during the Lions’ second-Test loss to the Springboks in July.

“Taulupe is not too far away,” said Hooper.

“It’s an aggravation of the ankle injury he picked up the first time he trained with us after the Lions tour.

“It’s just that which is keeping him away from training, but he’s progressed in the last few weeks and hopefully we’ll see him back out there sooner rather than later.”

Wales begin the defence of their Six Nations crown with an away match against Ireland on Saturday, 5 February.

Asked if Faletau, 31, will be fit for the trip to Dublin, Hooper added: “Yeah, I think so. Taulupe’s a world class player and always gets talked about when the Six Nations comes around, but he’s not played rugby since before the Lions Test matches.

“So that’s a long time without playing and we want to see him back playing for Bath as soon as possible. Then I’m sure Wales will want to look at him after that.”