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Saturday 10 December 2016

Wales' World Cup hopes in disarray after double injury blow

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny leaves the field on a stretcher during the World Cup Warm up match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny leaves the field on a stretcher during the World Cup Warm up match at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

WALES boss Warren Gatland looks set to summon World Cup replacements after being hit by a savage double blow just a fortnight before his team’s opening game.

James Hook and Mike Phillips - together with New Zealand-born Gareth Anscombe - could be in the frame for possible call-ups after Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb saw their World Cup dreams become the stuff of nightmares. Both players were carried off during Wales’ final World Cup warm-up fixture against Italy on Saturday, with full-back Halfpenny suffering a knee injury and hospitalised scrum-half Webb suspected ankle ligament damage.

Gatland is awaiting updated medical bulletins following scans, but it does not look good for either player. They are integral parts of Gatland’s plans. Halfpenny’s goal-kicking prowess was underlined by him passing 500 points for Wales during the Italy encounter, while Webb has established himself as clear first-choice number nine.

Hook and scrum-half Phillips were both cut from Gatland’s squad last month, but given their combined experience of more than 170 Wales caps - and another potential Halfpenny deputy Anscombe currently recovering from an ankle problem - they could now find themselves in pole position.

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