WALES have been dealt an injury blow as they bid to end their Autumn international series with a win against southern hemisphere opposition.
Warren Gatland’s men will line up against South Africa on Saturday hoping to end on a high after their disappointing loss against the All Blacks last weekend and Australia earlier this month.
After battling well in the first half, Wales slumped to a 18-33 loss at the hands of New Zealand and lost 21-29 to the Wallabies. They only have a 13-6 win against Georgia to show for their Autumn efforts so far.
Following the match on Saturday, Warren Gatland said: “I thought it was a great Test match. At half-time I felt we’d given them soft tries. I said yesterday we had a good chance of winning if we could contain their wingers and that was the difference between us. Their power and pace showed and they scored four tries between them.”
Wales will face a tough Springbok test without Jake Ball (dislocated shoulder) and Justin Tipuric (quad) who have both been released back to their parent clubs.
Gatland said: “Jake has been growing and growing for us over the last few years and Tips is world class. It’s not ideal for us but it gives other players an opportunity. Hopefully Tips is only short term. It’s the game, it’s tough and uncompromising. I’m not sure how long Justin will be out for.”
Scott Williams however, will be fit to play.
Gatland continued: “Scotty trained this morning. Some of them are still a bit sore, they got a bit banged up. It was a tough game on Saturday. Some of them are probably still a bit fatigued but they’ll freshen themselves up.”
One of the criticism Wales have had in recent times is their squad depth and after a collection of injuries Gatland has been asked whether this has made a difference in this series.
He answered: “We’re a little bit down [on numbers] but it’s a chance for other guys. Hadleigh and Owen Watkin are there, Patchell is there, we’ve got the same back three. We’ve got plenty of players, not as many as we had at the start, but we’ve had a few injuries and hopefully other players can show what they’re all about. We’ve been together for four weeks, most of the stuff we want is in place.
“It’s never easy when you lose. We had enough opportunities on Saturday and then the score gets blown out. 33-18 sounds like we were a fair way off it but we weren’t. We’re trying to play with ball in hand, trying to play to space. It’s not easy when you lose and have players going back to the clubs after a defeat but this is Test match rugby.”
South Africa has had a tough few weeks in the northern hemisphere. In their first game they were beaten by a strong Ireland team, They then narrowly beat a poor France outfit before beating Italy comfortably.
Despite their form, the Springboks do have genuine talent and are still one of the best teams in the world.