herald

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jenkins: Wales injuries 'a bit of a blow'

INJURIES are dominating the build-up to Wales' Six Nations opener against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday.

Wales coach Warren Gatland will name his team tomorrow for the Aviva Stadium clash, with Gethin Jenkins, Matthew Rees, Lloyd Burns, Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones confirmed as non-starters.

And the situation could yet deteriorate from a fitness perspective, as centre Jamie Roberts (knee), fly-half Rhys Priestland (knee) and flanker Dan Lydiate (ankle) are all racing against time to play in Dublin.

Wales skills coach Neil Jenkins said: "They are progressing, but how quickly we are not too sure. We will give them as much time as possible.

"We are hopeful of all the injured players recovering, but whether they make it is a matter of time.

"It is always a blow if you lose some of your best players, but we are quite lucky in what we have got.

"We would not have to make too much of an adjustment, but if you lose some of the players who have played as well as they have for us, it can be a bit of a blow.

"The other side of the coin is that it is an opportunity for other boys, and they would relish the opportunity to show what they were all about."

It is thought uncapped 21-year-old Ospreys centre Ashley Beck has a chance of replacing Roberts, with James Hook the likely alternative to Priestland and Ryan Jones expected to deputise if Lydiate is sidelined.



Plaudits

Wales wowed the world in New Zealand last autumn as they achieved their best result on a global stage since 1987. A fourth-place finish saw them win numerous plaudits, but it was not a tournament to savour for Hook.

The 26-year-old missed vital goal-kicks against South Africa, semi-final opponents France and during a bronze medal match loss to Australia, while he also suffered a shoulder injury that meant an enforced World Cup lay-off.

Reflecting on the World Cup, Hook said: "It was so disappointing for me.

"I was just keen to get over to France (to play for Perpignan) and forget about it. The semi-final was the lowest I have been after a game.

"I was bitterly disappointed. I worked so hard for what is the pinnacle of international rugby, and it didn't go well. But I have got over that now, and it is about this Six Nations and beyond."

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