Rugby World Cup 2015

Injury-hit Wales hope for one-size-fits-all replacements

With more players out injured, Wales' head coach Warren Gatland will be hoping the fit ones can fill multiple roles.
With more players out injured, Wales' head coach Warren Gatland will be hoping the fit ones can fill multiple roles.PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
Hallam Amos (winger )
Hallam Amos (winger )

CARDIFF • Wanted: Rugby players who can tackle the positions of fly-half, centre, wing, full-back and more. Must want to win the World Cup. Ability to speak Welsh a bonus. Odd bruise accepted.

James Hook and Gareth Anscombe were briefed to prepare for utility roles when they were rushed into the Wales squad on Monday, as Scott Williams and Hallam Amos joined a growing casualty list.

Such was the depleted state of available bodies after their 28-25 victory over England on Saturday, attack coach Rob Howley said that players have to be ready to fill multiple roles.

Warren Gatland's side have two wins out of two and are in a strong position to qualify from Pool A. But they still have to play Fiji and Australia, while the unbeaten Wallabies also have to face England.

Hook and Anscombe, both primarily fly-halves, were in Wales' wider training squad. Hook was cut when the final 31 were selected and Anscombe was not considered because of an ankle injury.

STILL UPBEAT

Obviously it's a blow to lose another two players but the resilience, the character we showed in Twickenham on Saturday, I'm sure you'll see that in abundance over the next four of five weeks.

ROB HOWLEY, Wales' assistant coach

However, Howley declared that they were both capable of stepping up, with Hook earmarked to cover the centre, wing and full-back as well as fly-half spots. Anscombe could also wear the 10 or 15 jersey.

"Both of them have played in our friendlies prior to the World Cup," he said. "James is vastly experienced with 78 caps, can play many positions, and obviously Gareth, his experience in Super Rugby, gives us the ability to play him at 15 as well."

In addition to losing centre Williams (knee) and wing Amos (shoulder) from the tournament, full-back Liam Williams has also been ruled out of their next match against Fiji in Cardiff tomorrow, after being concussed in the England clash.

  • WELSH WOUNDED

  • Scott Williams (centre)

    Knee injury


    Hallam Amos (winger )

    Shoulder


    Liam Williams (full-back)

    Concussion


    Eli Walker (winger)

    Hamstring


    Cory Allen (centre)

    Hamstring


    Leigh Halfpenny (full-back)

    Knee


    Rhys Webb (scrum-half)

    Foot


    Jonathan Davies (centre)

    Knee

Before the tournament started, Wales had already lost fullback Leigh Halfpenny and scrum-half Rhys Webb to injury. Jonathan Davies was also ruled out earlier in the year, while centre Cory Allen was sidelined after their opening 54-9 win over Uruguay.

Other options under consideration were moving George North from wing to centre and possibly match-winning fly-half Dan Biggar to full-back, Howley added.

Australia are also counting the costs of their 65-3 win over Uruguay. Days before their crunch match against England, the Wallabies have suffered a double injury blow, with two of their biggest forwards, Wycliff Palu and Will Skelton, ruled out of the tournament .

Lock Skelton came off the field early in the second half on Sunday with what turned out to be a pectoral muscle injury, while No. 8 Palu was withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring strain.

Scans on Monday ruled them out of the tournament and they were replaced in the squad by hooker James Hanson and lock Sam Carter.

The loss of a combined 255kg of forward muscle will be felt and Skelton's proven ability to counter the rolling maul will be a particular loss given the popularity of the catch-and-drive as an attacking weapon at this World Cup.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS


RUGBY WORLD CUP

Pool A: Wales v Fiji (tomorrow, 11.30pm). Pool D: France v Canada (Friday, 2.45am) - Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'Injury-hit Wales hope for one-size-fits-all replacements'. Print Edition | Subscribe