Wales star a fitness concern ahead of second Wallabies clash

David Skippers
Aaron Wainwright Wales v Australia 2024 - Alamy.jpg

Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright on the charge against the Wallabies.

Wales number eight Aaron Wainwright is a major injury concern ahead of his side’s second Test against the Wallabies at AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday.

Although his team suffered a 25-16 defeat in the first international against Australia last Saturday, Wainwright delivered an impressive performance in his 50th Test appearance before leaving the field due to a leg injury in the encounter’s latter stages.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley revealed that there is still uncertainty about Wainwright‘s availability for the second Test and admitted that losing a player of his calibre would be a setback for the team.

‘Waiting for further assessment’

“We are waiting for a further assessment,” said Howley. “He was outstanding (in the first Test). His carries, his footwork, he got us on the front foot on many occasions.

“We are waiting for that assessment to come back from the medical team.”

Despite putting up a brave fight in the first Test against the Wallabies, Warren Gatland‘s side have now lost eight Tests in a row and are yet to be victorious in 2024.

Wales last won a match at last year’s Rugby World Cup in France when they beat Georgia during the pool stages of the global showpiece.

Since then, they lost their World Cup quarter-final against Argentina, all five Tests during this year’s Six Nations campaign as well as their most recent matches against South Africa and Australia.

Gatland is set to announce his matchday squad for Saturday’s Test on Thursday and apart from Wainwright, Liam Williams (full-back), Josh Hathaway (wing) and Gareth Thomas (prop) also sustained knocks in the first Test.

“Liam Williams hopefully will be available for selection. We are waiting on him,” added Howley.

“Gareth Thomas had a bit of a dead leg, he was back in training today. Josh Hathaway is being monitored, he took a bump on his arm.

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“In terms of those players coming off, fingers crossed they will be available for selection.”

Saturday’s loss in Sydney means Wales have now lost 12 successive matches against the Wallabies on Australian soil with their last victory there registered way back in 1969.

Gatland is expected to make minimal changes, however, and the only alterations could be made due to injuries.

“It is an important game,” Howley said. “There is huge disappointment and frustration within the camp. We want to give the best version of ourselves.

“Everyone is hugely motivated. It is how you come out of a Test match when you have lost.

“I thought we really did well to come back into the game at 18-16. We can talk about the experience and the learning, of course we can, but we need to start winning Test matches.

‘Have to trust the process’

“I think from a coach’s perspective, you trust players. You have to trust the process.

“We all talk about those one per cents and fine margins. Every second, every one minute matters in an international game, and the ability to stay focused and to concentrate.

“Unfortunately for us there were too many moments where we had the opportunity, yet we weren’t able to execute under pressure.

“Through training and backing our players, keeping on our process, we hope at some point through that experience of these players playing more international games that we will get over the line.

“We have to keep knocking the door, keep working hard and keep believing.”

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