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Wales Online
Wales Online
Paul Abbandonato & Katie Sands

Tonight's rugby news as Wales sweating on Louis Rees-Zammit amid back-three crisis ahead of huge All Blacks clash

Here are the latest rugby headlines on Thursday, October 27.

Pivac keeps close eye on Rees-Zammit

Wales boss Wayne Pivac will be left sweating on the fitness of star winger Louis Rees-Zammit after the try ace was named in Gloucester's starting XV for their English Premiership clash with Exeter this weekend.

The wing flyer is one of just two fully-fit back-three stars currently available to Pivac for the autumn opener with New Zealand in just nine days' time.

Wales certainly can't afford for anything to happen to Rees-Zammit as well, meaning Pivac will be closely monitoring events at Kingsholm before naming his side for the glamour clash with the three-times world champions next week.

A host of frontline players teamed up with Wales on Monday carrying injuries and needing treatment.

Josh Adams (thumb), Alex Cuthbert (foot) and Leigh Halfpenny (hamstring) are each short of fitness, while George North, another option for a back-three berth, limped out of the Ospreys' defeat to the Dragons last weekend with a knee problem.

With regular full-back Liam Williams definitely out, it means Pivac will need to assess his walking wounded next week prior to choosing his starting side, with back-three clearly the biggest issue. He remains optimistic each of the players will be fit for the game.

However, Wales have chosen not to release Cuthbert for the Ospreys' United Rugby Championship clash with Connacht on Saturday, even though the winger is short of game time.

Fly-half Gareth Anscombe is another who needs minutes under his belt, but who will remain in camp with Wales rather than being released for regional action.

The injury issues mean in-form Dragons youngster Rio Dyer could be in line for a Wales debut in the November 5 Principality Stadium clash. But whatever happens, Pivac will definitely want Rees-Zammit to be available. He is due to team up with Wales after Gloucester's game with Exeter has finished on Friday night, where he will be joined by Wales forward Christ Tshiunza, who is named on the bench for the Chiefs.

Nick Tompkins and Sam Wainwright could well be involved with Saracens, who are yet to name their team. Leicester Tigers, meanwhile, aren't playing so Tommy Reffell won't be in action in the Premiership this weekend.

Jenkins nearing return amid Adams and Faletau update

Ellis Jenkins is in contention to make his rugby return for Cardiff within the next fortnight.

The Wales flanker, 29, has been recovering from a knee procedure in August, following relatively minor surgery at the end of last season. Having battled for two years and undergone multiple surgeries to save his career after suffering a severe knee injury in 2018, his latest injury was nowhere near as serious and was not the same limb as previously injured.

Now, Cardiff backs coach Matt Sherratt has revealed Jenkins is close to returning. "Ellis is around contention for selection now, hopefully in the next week or two we'll see Ellis back on the pitch with a Cardiff shirt on," Sherratt said ahead of his side hosting Edinburgh on Sunday.

Fly-half Jarrod Evans is in line to face Edinburgh on Sunday, while it is hoped Taulupe Faletau and Josh Adams will be fit in the Wales camp to run out against either New Zealand on November 5 or Argentina on November 12.

"I don't think either injury was majorly significant from my understanding but I couldn't give you a timeframe," Sherratt added. "Hopefully they're fit and ready to go for the autumn, certainly one of the early games."

Wales need to summon underdog spirit in World Cup quarter-final

Wales fly-half Elinor Snowsill insists Wales can summon the underdog spirit of past glories to keep themselves in the World Cup by beating defending champions New Zealand on Saturday.

The Wales outside-half understands why few outside her own camp believe the hosts can be beaten in Saturday’s quarter-final in Whangarei. The Black Ferns have already enjoyed a 56-12 victory over Wales in the pool stages and many of their fans believe the Kiwis are on a patriotic mission to retain their title and deny England a World Cup trophy in the final.

But Snowsill says Wales are used to being written off, have nothing to lose, and can take inspiration from the fact that odds stacked against them have been demolished before, albeit on home soil.

“If we lose, it will be the last game we as a group play out here in New Zealand, so if that’s not a motivator, I don’t know what is,” says the 33-year-old, ahead of the last-eight tie, which is being broadcast live on S4C Clic and will be re-shown in full later in the day.

“We will all play our hearts out and leave nothing out there. New Zealand are a very physical side, but again, if we match them, we will have to take our chances.”

Snowsill, who will earn her 71st cap on Saturday, accepts that while Wales have shown moments of genuine control in all three of their games – against the Scots, the Black Ferns, and Australia – they are yet to put together a complete 80-minute performance, something which will be required if they are to produce the biggest shock result in their history.

“We know we have to pull out something that people haven’t seen yet. We have shown glimpses of it. Some of our attack has been really good at times, our setpiece has been outstanding at times, and so has our defence. But now it all has to come together and we have to be able to do it consistently for the whole 80 minutes."

If head coach Ioan Cunningham and his team do bow out of the tournament this weekend, then Snowsill has no plans to retire or even rule out what would be an incredible fifth appearance at a World Cup in 2025.

“I haven’t made any decisions. People have told me they have known when it was time to retire and I haven’t felt that yet. I think it would be a shame that after grinding for over a decade, trying to juggle work and rugby, to give it up nine months after receiving a professional contract. I am not near my potential yet or near my best, I know that. I am keen to see where that can go. The next World Cup is only three years away.”

  • Watch live online coverage of New Zealand v Wales from 7.30am on S4C Clic, S4C Rygbi Facebook page and S4C YouTube channel on Saturday, October 29.


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