Gatland set to recall key trio
August 16, 2011
Lee Byrne's return will be a huge boost following Morgan Stoddart's horrendous injury © Getty Images
Wales coach Warren Gatland is set to recall trio Adam Jones, Leigh Halfpenny and Lee Byrne to the side to face Argentina on Saturday.
Ospreys prop Jones has been struggling with a toe injury, while Halfpenny (ankle) and Byrne (knee) have also been fitness concerns with Wales' opening World Cup contest against South Africa less than four weeks away. The return of tight-head Jones will be a particular boost as the Welsh scrum found itself in strife during the back-to-back fixtures against England, and is likely to face a tough examination against the Pumas, as well as against the Springboks on September 11.
But Gatland has had to wait over the fitness of a further quartet of players ahead of this weekend's final World Cup warm-up game. Gethin Jenkins, Ryan Jones, Stephen Jones and Rhys Priestland (all calf) were put through their paces yesterday as they sought to prove their availability.
The injury to Jenkins would appear to be the most worrying as the Cardiff Blues prop has struggled with calf issues over the last two seasons, and has not featured for Wales since last autumn's defeat to New Zealand.
Wales' were also dealt a major blow yesterday when captain Matthew Rees was ruled out of the tournament as he needs surgery on a persistent neck injury, and joins full-back Morgan Stoddart (broken leg) in being ruled out of the global showpiece.
And assistant coach Shaun Edwards revealed that the pain that Rees was experiencing due to his injury made the decision for him to have an operation an easy one. Edwards said: "From a rugby point of view it is incredibly disappointing to lose your captain but there are more important things in life than rugby, and he is in such pain it has to come second to his life.
Centre Gavin Henson is another who may yet experience World Cup heartache as the dislocated bone in his wrist is set to sideline him for six to eight weeks, although Wales have not ruled out taking him to New Zealand to feature in the latter stages.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Family is Jean's priority and he puts that into a team context." Firdose Moonda pays tribute to Jean de Villiers with input from Allister Coetzee
The Monday Maul turns its attention to drunken nights out, a blunt-talking coach, hidden agendas and crooked feeds
As if beating the Springboks and Pumas on their home turf is not onerous enough Australia, it also involves a road trip from hell writes Greg Growden
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer