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The latest injury update on Wales’ Aaron Wainwright, Liam Williams and more

By Finn Morton
Wales' full back Liam Williams (L) and Wales' flanker Aaron Wainwright take part in a training session at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyo on October 22, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup semi-final against South Africa. (Photo by Odd Andersen / AFP) (Photo by ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Technical coach Rob Howley has been unable to confirm whether Aaron Wainwright, Liam Williams and four others will be available to take on the Wallabies in Wales’ second Test in Australia.

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With just a handful of days between now and Wales’ final Test match of the year, the visitors Down Under could still be dealt a major blow if the experienced duo of Wainwright and Williams are ruled out.

Wainwright, 26, played in his 50th Test last weekend as the Welsh went down swinging in a fierce battle with Joe Schmidt’s Wallabies in Sydney. But to make the fallout of defeat even tougher, the backrower limped off the field with 80 minutes and 37 seconds on the clock.

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

Video Spacer

Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

The Welsh enforcer was by far the most experienced forward in last week’s starting side, with Ospreys prop Gareth Thomas second with 18 fewer caps. It’s a similar narrative in the backs if you consider the influence and potential loss of outside back Liam Williams.

Williams, who played a handful of matches for the British and Irish Lions across two tours in 2017 & 2021, is a 91-Test veteran who lined up at fullback in a backline that included uncapped winger Josh Hathaway and two-Test flyhalf Ben Thomas.

To put this all into context, Wainwright and Williams have 141 caps between them, while the other 13 players in last weekend’s starting side share 180 appearances.

“Aaron Wainwright, we’re waiting for further assessment. Liam Williams, hopefully, he will be available for selection,” Howley told reporters in Melbourne.

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“Gareth Thomas, a bit of a dead leg, back in training today. Josh Hathaway is being monitored. Obviously, it’s a bump on his arm. Then Dillon Lewis and Ben Carter, obviously they trained this morning with us.

“Fingers crossed they will be available for selection.

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“We’re just waiting (for) an assessment on him,” he added when prompted about Wainwright in particular.

“I think he was outstanding in the game. His carries, his footwork, he got us on the front foot on many occasions.

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“So, hopefully, but we’re waiting for that assessment to come back from the medial team.”

Whether Wainwright and Williams line up for Wales remains to be seen, but those who do take the field will be supremely focused on the job at hand. Centre Owen Watkins made that very clear following Howley’s press conference on a cold and rainy Tuesday.

Warren Gatland’s men haven’t won a Test since beating Georgia 43-19 in last year’s Rugby World Cup pool stages. They’ve since lost to Argentina in their quarter-final, later gone winless in the Six Nations, and have been recently beaten by South Africa and Australia.

Match Summary

2
Penalty Goals
3
3
Tries
1
2
Conversions
0
0
Drop Goals
0
130
Carries
104
3
Line Breaks
2
9
Turnovers Lost
19
7
Turnovers Won
3

For those doing the maths and keeping track, that’s a run of eight losses which will extend to nine if they’re unable to avoid another defeat at AAMI Park. So, if Wainwright, Williams or any of the others are fit then rest assured they’ll be “available for selection.”

“At the end of the day it’s an important game. (There’s) huge disappointment and frustration within the camp,” Howley explained.

“It’s a second Test and we want to give the best version of ourselves.

“The game (in Sydney) on 68 minutes, it was a huge probably 90 seconds, two minutes which we unfortunately couldn’t stay in that arm wrestle.

“For us, it was huge disappointment in terms of the number of errors – unforced and forced – and particularly for the first half. The second half, the amount of possession we had towards the end of the game, the impact off the bench, it was excellent.

“We’ve just come up short.”

All Black second row Brodie Retallick joins Jim Hamilton for the latest episode of Walk the Talk, touching on life in Japan, RWC 2023 and the future of All Black rugby. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

1 Comment
T
Thomas 10 days ago

Wales can ill afford to lose Wainwright, who’s been their best player by a country mile.
This is just compounded misery, hard to watch.

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finn 4 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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