Thursday 19 September 2019

Blow for Wales as concussion rules out Halfpenny

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny. Photo: PA Wire
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny. Photo: PA Wire

James Corrigan

Concussion has ruled Leigh Halfpenny out of Wales' match against South Africa on Saturday when Warren Gatland's charges will try to make history by completing their first clean sweep in the autumn internationals.

The influential Lions full-back left the pitch near the end of the victory over Australia 11 days ago after a late and controversial hit by Samu Kerevi, though the Wallabies centre escaped any punishment.

"Leigh did some training last Saturday morning, and he was still feeling a bit light-headed," explained Wales skill coach Rob Howley. "It is common sense, really. A player's welfare comes first.

Howley mentioned Liam Williams and Gareth Anscombe as players who could wear the No 15 jersey, and the selection meeting before tomorrow's team announcement will clearly be affected by who plays at outside-half and who takes charge of the kicking tee.

Dan Biggar is widely viewed as a more consistent goal-kicker than Anscombe and that might earn him the nod at No 10.

Then it would be a straight fight between Anscombe and Williams at full-back, although Williams might be retained on the wing at the expense of Josh Adams.

Howley had some positive news concerning George North, with the Lions wing having recovered from a dead leg he suffered against Australia and returning to full training.

If Wales beat the Springboks for a fourth consecutive time, it will take their winning run to nine games - their longest streak in 19 years.

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