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Wales call up Scott Williams after Uilisi Halaholo gets ruled out

By Sam Smith

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Scarlets centre Scott Williams has been called into the Wales squad for the Autumn Nations Series which starts with next Saturday’s high profile clash with the All Blacks. The 31-year-old Williams, who has won 58 caps, has been called into the Wales squad to replace fellow midfielder Uilisi Halaholo, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

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Halaholo is now isolated away from Wales camp for ten days and the WRU has notified – and is working closely with – Public Health Wales on the matter. The squad’s midfield alteration came on the same day that seasoned centre Jonathan Davies spoke at the Autumn Nations Series official media launch. 

Wales launch their campaign against a country they have not beaten since 1953. It is a run of 31 successive defeats, including 16 at home, and Wales’ task has not been helped by injuries and unavailability.

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Sam Cane sets targets following his long All Blacks layoff
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Sam Cane sets targets following his long All Blacks layoff

With the game falling outside World Rugby’s autumn international window, the reigning Six Nations champions will be without England-based players like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit because they are not released by their clubs. 

And a number of key personnel are absent through injuries, with British and Irish Lions stars such as George North, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric all currently sidelined.

“Everyone talks about the record of the last 50 or 60 years against New Zealand,” said Wales midfielder Davies before it became known that Halaholo had been ruled out. “But it is a great way for us to start our autumn series. It is the excitement of the challenge. It’s a tough task, but the boys are focused and we have had two good weeks of preparation. We are focused on getting a performance and accuracy on the pitch to hopefully gain a good result, which would be a great way to start this autumn.”

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For the first time since they met Six Nations opponents France in February last year, Wales will play in front of a capacity 70,000-plus crowd at the Principality Stadium. Davies added: “It is an exciting prospect having a full Principality Stadium. It’s something the boys are relishing.

“It is one of the reasons why we all play the game. The bus trip from the hotel to the stadium and seeing the streets full of Welsh supporters is amazing. Their roar is one of the best in the world. We have talked about being away from the fans for the last 18 months, but the opportunity to now go out and play in front of a full crowd is something you can’t take for granted. It is really exciting for whoever gets that chance.”

Davies, who has won 91 Wales caps, has only once been on a winning side against New Zealand and that was for the 2017 British and Irish Lions in Wellington. But the 33-year-old is enthused by an autumn schedule that also features appointments with South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

“If you look at the last few autumns, leading into the (2019) World Cup we were able to get that win over Australia after not winning (in that fixture) for ten years,” he said. “We have beaten South Africa the last few times so for us, it’s making sure we are accurate and compete at the highest level. There are some great fixtures to be excited about this autumn.

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“We have got a good crop of boys and we have got to make sure we are all competing in the week and making sure the team is as best prepared for the weekend as possible. I am excited about the challenge and I have always wanted to compete against the best.”

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Wales call up Scott Williams after Uilisi Halaholo gets ruled out

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