Doug Howlett out for season

Getty Images     08 Dec 2011     Getty Images

The 33-year-old former Blues wing and fullback is set to undergo surgery after scans revealed he had ruptured his Achilles.

Howlett suffered the injury in the closing minutes of Saturday's 19-13 loss to Ospreys.

Howlett now joins Felix Jones, David Wallace, Jerry Flannery and Darragh Hurley in facing a lengthy spell out of action.

There is some good news for Munster, though, with Keith Earls, Peter Borlase and Dave O'Callaghan all closing in on comebacks.

Earls should return to full training next week while Borlase and O'Callaghan are poised to play for the club's second string in the British and Irish Cup game against Ayr on Saturday.

Shane Williams says he will make a decision on whether to extend his playing contract with the Ospreys within 'the next couple of weeks'.

The 34-year-old wing brought down the curtain on his Test career in memorable fashion by extending his Welsh try scoring record to 58 with his touchdown in the final moments of Saturday's 24-18 Millennium Stadium defeat to Australia.

Having made the decision to step down from the international game Williams will now turn his focus solely to the Ospreys, the region he has played for since their inception in 2003.

The arch-finisher has 18 months remaining on his deal with the Liberty Stadium side, but Williams has said he has been offered an extension that would keep him playing beyond his 37th birthday until the summer of 2014.

Northampton head coach Jim Mallinder has hinted that Saints are likely to appeal against Chris Ashton's four-week ban.

The England wing was handed the suspension by an RFU disciplinary panel on Tuesday and is set to miss two Heineken Cup matches over the next two weekends, plus two Aviva Premiership games over the festive period.

Ashton was disciplined for hauling Alesana Tuilagi into touch by the Leicester player's hair, sparking a mass braul after which two men were sent off.

But Mallinder told Sky Sports News: "We think that four weeks is fairly harsh. Of course we don't want these incidents to happen but it was actually an isolated incident and I don't know if that would be a red card or not in a normal game.

"It wasn't a normal game - it was a big, physical encounter between two rivals and a fantastic game of rugby. It was just a shame that something like this had to happen."
Cardiff Blues flanker Martyn Williams is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines after damaging his right arm for a second time.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions international has already spent three months out after breaking his arm.

However, he had been set to return to action in Friday's Heineken Cup clash with Edinburgh.

Williams, though, now faces having a metal plate inserted after he suffered the latest setback on Tuesday.

"Martyn has had a recurrence of the injury, which is very disappointing," said Blues coach Justin Burnell.

"He's been set back for another period. He had a knock on his arm during a very physical session which was required for the squad, so he's gone back now to have more X-rays.

"We could be without him for a fair while. He's gutted. I felt very sorry for him because we had included him in the squad for this weekend.

"With that and having had this fresh knock, I can understand his total frustration and disappointment."