Lee Byrne sidelined by broken bone in his back

Clermont Auvergne's Welsh full-back Lee Byrne is out of action until at least the New Year after suffering a cracked bone in his back.

The 32-year-old British and Irish Lion sustained the injury in his side's 28-21 Heineken Cup win over Leinster at the weekend.

A Clermont Auvergne statement read: "He [Byrne] suffered a broken bone in his fifth vertebra."

Byrne has not played for Wales since his 46th cap at the 2011 World Cup.

He joined Clermont on a three-season deal ahead of the 2011-12 season, linking up with the French team following his duties at the 2011 tournament in New Zealand.

However, the 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam-winner and 2009 Lions tourist to South Africa remains an international contender.

Cardiff Blue Leigh Halfpenny, the incumbent Wales full-back, is scheduled to return from a neck injury ahead of the Six Nations.

Liam Williams of the Scarlets has also overtaken Byrne in the Wales pecking order.

Perpignan's James Hook offered versatile cover off the bench during the 2012 four-Test autumn whitewash by Argentina, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.