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George North injury provides chances to others says Warren Gatland

Published 13/06/2016

Wales' George North has suffered a hamstring injury
Wales' George North has suffered a hamstring injury

Warren Gatland has told his two wings in Tuesday night's clash with Super Rugby side the Chiefs that they are battling for a place in the second Test following George North's hamstring injury.

North is heading home this week having been ruled out of the rest of the tour with a significant hamstring tear that came in the last move of the 39-21 defeat to the All Blacks in Auckland last weekend as he tried to stop Darren Harris from scoring the fifth try.

"George is going home. It's a significant tear, but we're unsure whether he needs an operation or not," said Gatland. "It's unfortunate for him and a big loss for us. Hopefully, he gets a good break and comes out for next season.

"It's a shame for George, he's hit a bit of form in recent months and he was outstanding in the first Test in attack with his foot-work. He caused the All Blacks a lot of problems, so it is a big loss for us

"Both the wingers combined excellently for the first try we scored and now there is an opportunity for somebody else. There's an opportunity for both of wings against the Chiefs, and the midfield too.

"There's a lot on the line for the players who are playing on Tuesday in terms of personal and team performance before we announce the side for Saturday.

"It's tough, but some of those players who are going to be involved next year with the Lions are going to find the same."

The game is a bit of a homecoming for Gatland, who was the hooker in the 1988 Waikato side that beat Wales in the first game of their eight-match tour that summer.

Born in Hamilton, his family still live in the city.

And he has warned his players to expect a warm reception, even though the home side will be missing eight All Blacks, two other players on sevens and Under-20 international duty and 10 others ruled out through injury.

"I'm not sure that some of our players know what they have got coming tomorrow night because the Chiefs players will be climbing the walls," he said.

"You don't get many opportunities to play international games any more.

Tom James and Eli Walker will feature on the wings for Wales with recent arrival Rhys Patchell gong straight onto the bench a mere two days after arriving in New Zealand.

Scott Williams teams up with Tyler Morgan at centre as one of seven players in the starting XV who played a part in the first Test at Eden Park.

Former World Cup match winner Stephen Donald will lead the Waikato Chiefs. The ex-Bath outside half will fill the No 10 jersey left vacant by the involvement of Aaron Cruden and Damian McKenzie with the All Blacks.

The Chiefs, Super Rugby champions in 2013 and 2014, will mark their first game against an international touring team with a special Haka before the game - the first time in their 20-year history that they have done so.

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