When it comes to beating the Springboks on South African soil this summer, Wales are certainly up against it.
Even with a full-strength squad, such is the mood in Welsh rugby at the minute, you’d imagine Wales will be flying out a priest to Pretoria along with the usual coaching ticket. It’s going to be a tough tour.
However, with a spate of injuries, it could well be nightmarish. Perhaps not as bad as 1998, but it could be the starting point for any future BBC documentaries in years to come.
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Some injury absentees will be felt harder than others by Wayne Pivac. While many aren’t totally ruled out at this stage there are a lot of worries with the squad expected to be announced next week.
Aaron Wainwright is one who is definitely missing. The Dragons’ back-row, who has established himself as a No. 8 back-up to Taulupe Faletau under Pivac, will miss the tour after fracturing a heel against the Scarlets recently.
Justin Tipuric is another back-row who won’t feature. The openside hasn’t featured this season since falling foul of a shoulder issue in the Lions’ opening match against Japan last year.
Another Lion who has struggled this year has been Ken Owens . The hooker hasn’t been seen in a Welsh jersey since the 2021 Grand Slam decider in Paris, with a back injury ruling him out of the autumn and then denying him a Six Nations place.
Ryan Elias and Dewi Lake have stepped up to the plate. It seems likely they’ll have to continue carrying the load in South Africa. Elliot Dee , though, might not be there – with the Dragons hooker a doubt with a calf strain.
Elsewhere in the front-row, another Test Lion might be missing. Wyn Jones is on the road to recovery after an operation on his knee. Scarlets coach Dwayne Peel recently played the seriousness of the surgery down so it’s possible he could still tour.
On the other side of the pack, Samson Lee – who hasn’t featured in a Welsh team since the latter part of 2020 – won’t be earning a recall, having flown home early from his region’s tour of South Africa in March after rupturing an Achilles tendon. Leon Brown is another tight-head in doubt, with the Dragons prop currently recovering from a shoulder nerve injury.
There’s other injury concerns at the Dragons – with Ross Moriarty also recovering from a nerve injury in his leg. While it is good news it is not serious knee ligament damage, Moriarty has admitted no date has been put on a possible return at this stage.
Will Rowlands is another Dragon currently injured. The lock – who would be in line to start ahead of Alun Wyn Jones in South Africa – has picked up a shoulder issue, although Dean Ryan noted last week that there had been improvement on that front.
Christ Tshiunza has been out with a hamstring injury which sidelined him for the Six Nations. The second-row/back-row hybrid hasn’t been mentioned in dispatches recently at Exeter, but the hope would be he’d tour to allow Pivac a closer look.
Moving into the backs, the news that Tomos Williams will be out for longer than six weeks – putting his touring place in serious doubt – would leave the scrum-half jersey once again shifting around. The hope would be that the Cardiff player recovers from a hand injury in time, but it’s by no means ideal.
His Arms Park team-mate Willis Halaholo is another who has seen injuries curb his chances of Test selection in recent years. While Williams has nailed down the scrum-half jersey, Halaholo’s not remained fit enough to challenge for a centre spot.
His luck isn’t set to change too much, unfortunately, with a hamstring injury ending his season. He might be back just in time for the tour, but it would be a big surprise.
Scott Williams hasn’t been granted the Welsh recall his form this season has warranted. However, an untimely injury has ruled him out for the rest of the campaign and likely ended any chances of a tour of South Africa.
In the back-three, Josh Adams is currently out with a knee injury which should keep him out for up to six weeks – leaving things a little tight for the Cardiff wing. Johnny McNicholl is another who might miss out, with a knee injury of his own ending his campaign.
Leigh Halfpenny hasn’t been seen on a rugby pitch since suffering a knee injury on his 100th Test cap against Canada last summer. It’s unlikely we see the full-back anytime soon.
Away from the injuries, two backs we definitely won’t see this summer will be Jonah Holmes and Hallam Amos . The former is leaving the Dragons to join Ealing after turning down a reduced contract in Wales.
As for Amos, he’s retiring this summer to pursue a career in medicine.