Wales head coach Warren Gatland has named his final ever Wales squad ahead of their bronze medal match against New Zealand this Friday, and it sees nine changes from the one that narrowly lost to South Africa last Sunday.
Thomas Francis, Aaron Wainwright, George North and Leigh Halfpenny are fresh injuries to go alongside the myriad casualties that the Welsh have had to contend with in Japan.
However, it is the fullback Halfpenny’s latest injury that has caused the most concern amongst fans, as he has suffered yet another concussion.
“Leigh Halfpenny, after the game, had a HIA and, with the five-day turnaround, he was unavailable because you need a minimum of six days for that,” said Gatland. “So he wasn’t under consideration.”
The two-time British and Irish Lions tourist missed all of Wales’ Grand Slam campaign earlier this year after suffering a head injury in November, although he did make his return for the Scarlets during the Six Nations.
That was not the first concussion the 89-cap international had suffered, and after this latest setback, some fans on social media are raising concerns about his health.
Of course, no one yet knows the full extent of this problem, and it may just be a precautionary move by Gatland, but head injuries are something that have troubled many players and have cut some brilliant careers short.
It is a great tragedy to see such a fine player have their career thwarted in such a way, as Halfpenny only reminded the rugby world of the player he is against the Springboks. Stepping in for the injured Liam Williams, the 30-year-old was a rock under the high ball in a kicking onslaught, and was typically reliable with the boot himself.
It is yet to be seen what Halfpenny’s next steps will be, but no one wants to see a player struggle in the way that he has in recent years with injuries, and questions are being asked about his future.
This is what has been said:
Worrying to see Leigh Halfpenny has concussion again.
— Mari Strachan (@maridwt) October 30, 2019
Meanwhile, this injury-ravaged Wales team will bear the full brunt of an All Blacks backlash this Friday, as the three-time champions will want to respond following their humbling loss to England in the semi-final. Gatland’s men will also have to do it without some of their star players.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now