Liam Williams and Ellis Jenkins are fitness doubts ahead of Wales’ All Blacks match this Saturday, further reducing Wayne Pivac’s resources.
Already without the seven he picked who play in the English Premiership – blocked as this match is being played outside the Test window – as well as the likes of injured Justin Tipuric, George North and Josh Navidi, Wales are down to the bare bones.
Lion Williams recently had his appendix removed, so is unlikely to play New Zealand this Saturday.
Liam Williams is unlikely to feature against the All Blacks after having his appendix removed
‘Liam is back training, which is great,’ said attack coach Stephen Jones.
‘He’s not had many sessions this season so we’re trying to improve him with every session.
‘In fairness, we are fully aware that it would be a big ask of Liam (to be fit), but he is doing everything he can to be available.
‘He’s working very hard because he wants to play and he wants to prove that. But we as coaches and fitness coaches understand where he is.
‘It’s important that we remember that we’ve got more games in November, so we have to be clever with how we use Liam.’
Returning flanker Ellis Jenkins is also a fitness doubt for the clash in Cardiff with a rib issue
Flanker Jenkins, who has not played for Wales for three years after an horrendous knee injury in 2018, is also a doubt with a rib issue.
WALES’ AUTUMN FIXTURES
New Zealand (H) – October 30, 5.15pm
South Africa (H) – November 6, 5.30pm
Fiji (H) – November 14, 3.15pm
Australia (H) – November 20, 5.30pm
‘He’ll be training today but it’s a matter of ticking various boxes as the week goes along, running with the team, the contact element,’ added Jones who did not rule the Cardiff No 7 out entirely yet.
If Jenkins does not make the cut this week it will mean Taine Basham is in line for his fourth cap having made his debut in the summer – he could form an all-Dragons back-row with Ross Moriarty and Aaron Wainwright.
‘If you look at Taine and the way he’s played for the Dragons this year and the way he has improved and worked hard at his game, he deserves a huge amount of credit,’ said Jones.
‘He’s a young man who is getting better every week. Whoever plays at seven, no doubt they will love the challenge and embrace it.’
Wales have not beaten New Zealand since 1953, and go into the game without many front-line players – but Jones is not worried.
‘From my perspective, I am very confident and comfortable with what we have in the playing group,’ the former fly-half said.
‘We have a huge amount of experience, a lot of talent and there are going to be opportunities for players, which is what you want, and you want your players to make the most of those opportunities.
‘I really enjoyed playing against New Zealand on each occasion. You set your standards and you want to be the best. It’s what playing the game is all about.’
Wayne Pivac was already facing a selection headache with seven players unavailable