Wales centre Willis Halaholo tests positive for Covid-19

Date published: October 26 2021 - Planet Rugby

Wales have been hit by a blow ahead of their Autumn Nations Series opener against New Zealand after Willis Halaholo tested positive for Covid-19.

The Cardiff centre was in contention to start at the launch of a tough schedule that also features Principality Stadium games against South Africa, Fiji and Australia.

Scott Williams, who plays for Scarlets and won the last of his 58 caps in 2019, has been called into the squad to replace him.

Halaholo is now isolating

In a statement, the Welsh Rugby Union said: “Scarlets centre Scott Williams has been called into Wales’ squad for the Autumn Nations Series.

“The 31-year-old Williams, who has previously won 58 caps, has been called in to the squad to replace fellow midfielder Uilisi (Willis) Halaholo, who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“Halaholo is now isolating, away from national squad camp, for 10 days. The WRU has notified, and is working closely with, Public Health Wales on the matter.”

Halaholo tweeted: “Been a rough 24hours. Found out my aunty (pretty much a 2nd mum to me) passed away late last night. Then wake up this morning and test positive and be unavailable for a game that I’ve worked hard towards since it was announced. Gutted. Congrats @ScottWilliams_1 Good luck brothers.”

New Zealand-born Halaholo qualifies for Wales on residency grounds and made his Test debut earlier this year.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac is due to announce his starting line-up on Thursday.

Jonathan Davies driven by challenge against New Zealand

Meanwhile, Wales centre Jonathan Davies has revealed they are excited by the challenge of facing New Zealand in their Autumn Nations Series opener in Cardiff on Saturday.

Pivac’s men will be under-strength as they begin their campaign against a country they have not managed to defeat since 1953, a horror drought for Wales.

It is a streak of 31 successive losses, including 16 on home soil, and Wales’ task has not been helped by injuries as well as unavailability of some of their star players.

With the fixture falling outside World Rugby’s autumn international window, the reigning Six Nations champions will be without England-based stars like Dan Biggar, Taulupe Faletau and Louis Rees-Zammit because they are not released by their clubs.

And a number of key personnel are absent through injuries, with British and Irish Lions stars such as George North, Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric all currently sidelined.