Injuries are an inescapable reality of professional sport but it often feels like the luck is rarely on Wales’ side.
Whether their luck is awry or other forces are at play, Wales are preparing to face Scotland this weekend with a patched-up side.
Even since the win over Ireland last Sunday, seven fresh injuries have been recorded. Some more serious than others.
It means Welsh rugby’s treatment room is now bursting at the seams, with more than 20 players currently unavailable for selection.
“It has been a couple of days trying to put it together, to be honest,” said head coach Wayne Pivac of his 23 to head up to Murrayfield.
“Injuries of any description are not pleasant for the players and nobody wants them. However, it is part and parcel of the game.
“We’ve got about 21 players unavailable from the first Six Nations. It’s a high number.
“I haven’t gone through the list of injuries to look for patterns but the medical boys will always do that in due course. I don’t have that information in front of me.
“It is a high number, but I don’t know how that compares with other countries.”
On closer inspection, there are currently 23 players sidelined who you would expect to be in Pivac’s thoughts.
So who exactly is missing and when will they be back?
Currently in the squad (nine players)
Hallam Amos, Johnny Williams (both concussion), Tomos Williams (hamstring), Jonathan Davies (ankle), George North (foot), Josh Navidi (neck), Josh Macleod (Achilles) Dan Lydiate (ACL), Josh Adams (suspended).
There was no update on Hallam Amos and Johnny Williams at today’s Wales press conference, however return-to-play protocols dictate that players must have a minimum of seven days out after failing a head injury assessment. With the Scotland game coming just six days after Ireland, they were never in contention for this weekend.
Tomos Williams’ hamstring went just before half-time on Sunday. There has been little indication as to how long he’ll be out but it would appear a race against time for him to make the England game in two weeks’ time. He has been retained in the squad, though, which is an indication that the management are confident he’ll play some further part in the Six Nations.
Jonathan Davies came into camp with an ankle issue and will miss the first two games, while George North and Josh Navidi will also miss this weekend. Pivac is confident all three players will be fit for England’s trip to Cardiff.
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Josh Macleod and Dan Lydiate appear to have suffered season-ending injuries. Lydiate’s came early in the match against Ireland, while Macleod’s came in training on Wednesday, half an hour after he’d been told he would make his international debut in Edinburgh. Brutal.
Adams is unavailable again this week not due to injury, but down to suspension for breaking Covid-19 protocols prior to the start of the Championship. He is back with the squad for training and will be available to face England.
Outside the squad (14 players)
Rob Evans, Samson Lee, James Davies, Rhys Patchell, Jonah Holmes (all concussion), Nicky Smith (knee), Ross Moriarty, Ollie Griffiths (ankle), Aaron Shingler (health), Taine Basham (fractured forearm), Scott Williams (shoulder), Owen Lane (fractured foot), Gareth Anscombe, Ellis Jenkins (long-term knee).
Before Pivac named his squad for the 2021 Six Nations, four of his likely contenders were sidelined with concussion, including Samson Lee and Jonah Holmes, who were both part of the autumn squad.
A knee injury has kept Nicky Smith out of contention after he featured in the autumn, while Ross Moriarty and Ollie Griffiths were both out of reach due to ankle problems. Moriarty suffered his injury during the early part of Wales camp back in October, while Griffiths’ was picked up in a European match against Wasps in December. At the time, he led the Guinness PRO14 in turnovers. He is hopeful of returning in March.
Dragons boss Dean Ryan had hoped Moriarty would be fit by the end of January but he was not named in their team to face Connacht tomorrow night – a match that has now been postponed due to a frozen pitch.
Taine Basham suffered a fractured forearm over the Christmas derby period and it was predicted he’d be out for up to 10 weeks. That means his return is likely to come around the end of the month or early in March.
Meanwhile, Cardiff Blues winger Owen Lane is set to return in a training game against the Ospreys tomorrow night, having been sidelined since November after fracturing a bone in his foot. He has played just a handful of matches since tearing his hamstring in Wales training early last year.
Scott Williams is likely to be out for sometime after suffering a painful shoulder injury whilst in action for the Ospreys over the festive period. Head coach Toby Booth said it looked a bad one and wasn’t particularly upbeat about the situation, though he didn’t specify what length of absence Williams was facing.
Patchell has battled a number of niggles since having shoulder surgery after the 2019 Rugby World Cup. He hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in Wales’ 2020 autumn campaign and the Scarlets have been coy about his exact situation. On January 20, Scarlets boss Glenn Delaney said he was on a six-week plan.
In August, Aaron Shingler was ruled out for at least three months with a leg injury that had required him to see a rheumatologist. There has been no definite return date set for him.
Ellis Jenkins is set to make his long-awaited return to action tomorrow in the Blues’ match against the Ospreys, where director of rugby Dai Young has said he’ll play 40 minutes.
It will be a welcome sight to see Jenkins back on the field, having battled back from a serious knee injury suffered in the autumn of 2018.
Gareth Anscombe, who is also battling a long-term knee injury that he picked up during preparations for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, is still sidelined with no return date pencilled in.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk