What is happening to Wales?
One injury to a star man on the eve of a World Cup is bad luck. Two is very unlucky indeed. Devastating in fact. To lose a further two, or possibly five during your side’s opening game is nothing short of ludicrous. So, just what is going wrong with Wales?
The rugby community hung its head to mourn the news that of the greatest full-backs of the modern game would not be gracing the biggest stage of them all. Leigh Halfpenny’s untimely knee injury had ended his dream before the tournament had even kicked off.
As if that was not agonizing enough, their gifted scrum-half Rhys Webb was then struck down earlier in that cursed match against Italy and saw his World Cup hopes to crumble.
The Welsh hoodoo inexplicably continued in their Pool A opener against Uruguay, as a further five players picked up injuries.
Man of the match Cory Allen could well have gone on to be one of the stars of the competition, but his headline-grabbing hat-trick will be his last contribution following a hamstring tear.
Full-back Liam Williams’ setback is not thought to be quite as severe as initially feared, and he will be assessed to see if he fit enough to face England.
Dan Lydiate also posed a concern, and the flanker was taken off as a precaution following a head injury, but he passed the tests and should be available.
A significant concern for Warren Gatland is in the prop department and as front row duo Samson Lee and Paul James are suffering from tight calves, while fellow prop Aaron Jarvis damaged a rib cartilage.
So just why is this happening? Surely no one team could be the victim of such misfortune. At this rate, Wales will not have a team to field against Australia in the crunch match at Twickenham in just under three weeks time.
There have been murmurs that Gatland is to blame for an over stringent training camp, but the New Zealander was quick to rebuke such claims.
“It happens in the sport. We are very happy with the way we have prepared and trained. It’s just unfortunate we have picked up a few knocks. But that’s rugby, that’s professional sport. There is no doubt we will pick up a few more. Sometimes you go through a spate of picking up a few injuries, and you’ve just got to deal with it”.
Looking at the bigger picture, union Leagues are underway, and a host of players will be returning to their club sides unable to contribute for a while.
Gatland may have come up with a short-term solution however as he believes that a little rest and recovery could do his players the world of good.
“We are not training until Wednesday anyway. We have a travel day tomorrow, we have the cap presentation, we have given the guys Tuesday off, so the first day on the pitch is Wednesday. Those players with little knocks and niggles have got at least until then to hopefully be fit for selection”.
Although he is putting a brave face on, the coach must be furious that this has happened to his side, but surely have had more of their share of bad luck now.
Should it happen again, an investigation may have to be launched with regards to their pre-tournament preparations, as while some injuries are unavoidable, they should not be occurring on this wide-spread scale.