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Wales make positional switch with Taulupe Faletau replacement

By PA
Taulupe Faletau/ PA

Scarlets scrum-half Kieran Hardy has been called into Wales’ World Cup squad.

Number eight Taulupe Faletau was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament after suffering a broken arm during Wales’ 43-19 victory over Georgia on Saturday.

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But Wales feel they have enough existing back-row options to cover Faletau’s absence and Hardy, who will join the squad in Versailles on Sunday night, will increase scrum-half resources alongside Gareth Davies and Tomos Williams.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “We feel we have a number of options in the back row at the moment, so we’ve decided to call up Kieran to give us extra cover at scrum-half and to take some pressure off from a training perspective.”

Hardy was left out of Wales’ initial World Cup squad after Gatland opted to select only two scrum-halves in Davies and Williams.

Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys admits Wales’ mood after topping their World Cup group with an unbeaten record has been tempered by injuries to Faletau and Gareth Anscombe.

Fly-half Anscombe withdrew 45 minutes before kick-off against Georgia in Nantes due to a groin injury.

In terms of replacing Faletau against quarter-final opponents Argentina next Saturday, Aaron Wainwright is likely to switch across the back-row from blindside flanker.

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Full-back Liam Williams was on crutches after the Georgia game following a blow to his knee but, while he could miss training in the early part of this week, Wales are hopeful about his quarter-final prospects.

“It is a big loss, he is a true world-class player,” Wales forwards specialist Humphreys said of Faletau.

“He is great around the place, but in a tournament these things happen and we have been very lucky in terms of the amount of injuries that we’ve had.

“But it still doesn’t detract from the loss of him. We will have a look over the next 24-48 hours (about a replacement) and make a decision then.

“You can’t replace what Toby (Faletau) gives, in terms of his intelligence and what he does, how he always turns up at the right place and makes the right decision at the right time.

“There is a huge onus now on everybody else to bring more.

“We are delighted that we topped the group, but then when you have close members of the squad who have been injured you are clearly down about that. It affects the mood.

“It is a tough one for Toby, but hopefully Gareth won’t be too long. He felt something in the warm-up and (we) made the decision not to play him. We will know over the next 36 hours what his chances are.”

If Wainwright moves positions, the vacancy at blindside flanker could mean a recall for seasoned campaigner Dan Lydiate, while Exeter’s Christ Tshiunza is also an option, along with switching captain Jac Morgan from openside and handing Tommy Reffell the number seven shirt.

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Humphreys added: “We are blessed with the options that we have, but it still doesn’t detract from fact that Toby has been a massive player for us. Whoever steps in I am sure will step up to the plate.

“I think Aaron has been exceptional and I and he know there is more in him.”

Anscombe’s injury meant a late call to the starting line-up for Sam Costelow, while Dan Biggar is continuing his recovery from a pectoral muscle strain and should feature in Marseille.

“There is no thinking, you just have to do what you’ve got to do for the best of the team,” Costelow said, following his sudden elevation from the bench.

“Those senior boys talking to me, just telling me to do my job and to relax, that was massive for me, especially as a young 10. I am just glad we got the job done.

“You can never switch off, especially in this pressured environment. You have got to be ready at all stages. I did my homework, I knew the role and luckily it went well.”

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matt 285 days ago

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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