Wales could be without their illustrious star man Leigh Halfpenny and scrum half Rhys Webb in the wake of the pair picking up what looked to be serious injuries in their final World Cup warm up game against Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday evening.
Fans await news anxiously, as they saw both stretchered off during the game. Leigh Halfpenny was carried from the field with a suspected knee injury, and Rhys Webb appeared to be having ankle ligament issues.
Rhys Webb alone would be a major loss for Warren Gatland having secured a regular starting position at nine in recent times, but I do not think Wales can challenge without their full back and place kicker Halfpenny.
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Halfpenny, one of the players of the tour for the Lions in 2013, will not only be missed for his solid full back qualities, but his first class place kicking, which has led him to be renowned as one of the best kickers in world rugby. He has scored over 500 points for Wales, and has age on his side, and will only go on to reach more milestones should he remain injury free.
Wales are not without experienced replacements should Gatland need to call up players to fill the positions left vacant, with Scrum Half Mike Phillips and versatile back James Hook having a combined total of over 170 caps between them.
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But speaking after the game, Gatland expressed his discontent at the unfortunate timing of the injuries, saying: "It's not great, is it?". And off the back of a promising win against world number two side Ireland in Dublin a week prior to the injuries, on a personal level it will be extremely crushing for the duo.
"It would be a massive blow for them and disappointing for us," said Gatland after the game against Italy, which Wales did in fact win despite it being very tight, 23-19.
To add to the injury woes, the performance will not have please Warren Gatland who must have been so optimistic after the Ireland win. Wales go into the 'group of death', that contains England, Australia AND Fiji, as well as minnows Uruguay, off the back of two warm-up wins, and now potentially without two guaranteed starters.
Wales must now regroup and plan for a tournament without Halfpenny and Webb if they are to stand any chance of progressing out the group, which would be an impressive feat in itself.
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