Francois Hougaard: Worcester seeking compensation for injured South African
Worcester Warriors are expecting to receive compensation for the loss of injured scrum-half Francois Hougaard.
The 28-year-old South African returned from Rugby Championship international duty for his country in October with a shoulder injury.
It was expected to keep him out for three months and he is ahead of his schedule in his rehabilitation.
But chief executive Jim O'Toole says the Warriors are in the process of finalising a compensation payment.
"Francois Hougaard came back from South Africa carrying an injury which he suffered during his campaign with them and we've had to pick up the pieces from that," he told BBC Sport.
"It has been disappointing to lose one of your top players, and one of your highest paid players too, for such a long period.
"He's a freak of nature, in terms of his rehabilitation, and we're hoping he's back a little bit earlier than originally anticipated.
"But we're working with our friends at the South African Rugby Union and World Rugby under 'regulation nine' to make sure that we get compensation."
Hougaard can dovetail with Shillcock
Hougaard played on the wing for South Africa in four of their six Rugby Championship games - twice against both Australia and New Zealand.
But it is in his main position of scrum-half that Warriors need him, especially following the loss of Jonny Arr against Wasps on Sunday with concussion.
O'Toole envisages him forging a successful partnership with highly-rated teenager Jamie Shillcock, who has seized his chance in the absence of injured pair Tom Heathcote and Ryan Lamb.
"We have had two other long-term injuries at 10," said O'Toole. "But, with Shillcock settling in and Hougaard alongside, we hope to get even more out of what is already an exciting back line over the second half of the season."
Warriors will reach the halfway point of the Premiership season when they meet winless bottom club Bristol on Boxing Day at Ashton Gate - a fixture they would go into with a lot more optimism if Hougaard is fit.
But, with England centre Ben Te'o to return following the autumn internationals, O'Toole feels a lot more confident heading into the second half of the campaign.
"The Six Nations will help us," he said. "We've been fortunate that we will play some of the top teams in that window (home games with Saracens and Exeter, as well as an away game at Northampton).
"Losing players for the autumn internationals disrupts the flow of the league. And that came on top of losing Ben Te'o with concussion in his second game.
"He scored a try at Sixways almost under Eddie Jones' nose, from where he was watching in one of the West Stand boxes. then he had to come off at half time as he had taken a whack. But he's fully fit now and we're looking forward to getting him back too."