Authors: Rio Sports
Wales have recalled Jamie Roberts to provide midfield cover for Jonathan Davies after the Lions’ player of the series in New Zealand suffered an ankle injury in the closing minutes of the defeat by Australia.
Wales did not issue an update on Davies’s condition but ankle ligament damage is suspected and Warren Gatland said on Saturday that the injury “did not look good.”
The only direct replacement for Davies, an outside-centre, in the squad is Owen Watkin, the 21-year old Osprey who won his first cap against Australia when he replaced Owen Williams 12 minutes from the end.
If Davies is ruled out for the rest of the series, which continues with Georgia on Saturday before New Zealand and South Africa roll up to the Principality Stadium, Gatland has the option of playing Scott Williams, an inside-centre by preference, at 13 having used Owen Williams as a second playmaker at 12 against the Wallabies.
“We’re still waiting on Jon,” said the skills coach Neil Jenkins. “Everyone saw it and it doesn’t look great. He’s going to struggle for the rest of this autumn but we hope it’s not too serious. I’m not saying he’s out but we just need to see where he’s at. He was outstanding for the Lions and last year for us. He’s world-class but Jamie will fit in naturally, an outstanding player who was unlucky to miss out originally.”
The 31-year old Roberts, who captained Wales on their summer tour to Tonga and Samoa, was dropped from the squad last month for the first time since Gatland took over at the end of 2007. The 93-cap Harlequin was told it did not herald the end of his international career but he would not have anticipated such a quick return.
“I am disappointed but understand the reasons why,” said Roberts last week when asked about his omission. “I will keep doing what I do best and hope that, come the Six Nations, I get another shot.”
The Bath prop Scott Andrews also reported for training on Monday morning. He was brought in as cover with Samson Lee, who missed the match against Australia, struggling with an achilles tendon problem.
Andrews is on loan at Bath from Cardiff Blues, which would lead to a poser if he is needed for the final match of the series against South Africa next month. The game falls outside the official international window and clubs are not obliged to release players.
The tighthead Tomas Francis will return to Exeter but it is a matter for negotiation whether Andrews would be covered by Premiership Rugby’s blanket ban on players being released for fourth internationals.
Wales expect two of their summer Lions who missed the Australia match through injury, the scrum-half Rhys Webb and the flanker Justin Tipuric, to be available for selection this weekend.
“They will enhance our side if they are ready,” Jenkins said. “It’s going to be tough against Georgia. They’re big and physical with a strong set piece and driving lineout. We want to carry on from the good things we did on Saturday and go to another level. We’re trying to play with intent and have fantastic players who are comfortable with ball in hand. With the backs we’ve got, we’d be silly not to let them play the natural Wales way.”
Sam Warburton says he has had “no hiccups so far” in his recovery from neck surgery. The twice British and Irish Lions captain remains on course for a return to action in January. Wales open their Six Nations campaign against Scotland on 3 February.
Warburton has not played so far this season after the recurrence of a long-standing neck injury meant an operation was deemed necessary. “I had the operation six weeks ago now, and it is a four-month return to play, which is January,” he said. “The rehab is going smoothly so far, so all good.”
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