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Wales coach Warren Gatland could be forced into more World Cup squad changes

Published 20/09/2015

Wales centre Cory Allen's World Cup looks over after he picked up a hamstring injury in the win over Uruguay
Wales centre Cory Allen's World Cup looks over after he picked up a hamstring injury in the win over Uruguay

Wales coach Warren Gatland faces making more changes to his World Cup squad after an opening victory over Uruguay which came at a heavy cost.

Wales completed a comfortable 54-9 victory over the South American minnows at the Millennium Stadium but the casualty list grew again only six days before their massive Pool A showdown with England.

Having lost star men Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb to serious injuries on the eve of the World Cup, there was more pain for Wales with first-half hat-trick hero Cory Allen almost certainly ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a "significant" hamstring injury.

Another change in the front-row also looks likely with Paul James and Samson Lee reporting tight calves and Aaron Jarvis having damaged a rib, while Wales were left sweating on the fitness of full-back Liam Williams, who was forced off with a thigh injury.

On the plus side, skipper Sam Warburton will be fine to play at Twickenham after being withdrawn with a groin problem and Dan Lydiate passed an assessment following a knock to the head late in the game.

"Cory's got a significant tear in his hamstring and at this stage, it looks like he'll definitely need to be replaced," Gatland said. "But he will be scanned on Monday.

"Liam's got a knock on the thigh and I've spoken to the medics to get an update, but they said it will take 24 hours to make an assessment.

"We may have to make a tough decision in terms of the props with five.

"We only had three that could take the field and we have to have four. We may have to make a difficult call and replace one of the props."

Gatland defended criticism of Wales' preparation with so many injuries beginning to undermine their World Cup challenge.

The New Zealander said the injuries were simply a case of bad luck and insisted Wales were still in good shape ahead of meeting tournament hosts England at Twickenham on Saturday.

"I don't think we look at the preparation because we know we're in good shape," Gatland said.

"Sometimes you just get bad luck and we've had that at the moment. That happens at this level.

"You can't blame the preparation on Leigh and Rhys getting injured, they're just unlucky.

"We're happy with how we prepared but we've picked up a few knocks and that's sport.

"In recent campaigns we've been very lucky, but sometimes it happens that you have a spate of picking up a few injuries."

Gatland praised Uruguay for their combative approach as as Wales fought back from an early 6-0 deficit to take command and said: "They made it tough for us and put us under a bit of pressure."

But Wales ran in eight tries in the end to win comfortably, even if the margin of victory might not have satisfied some of their supporters who feel qualification for the quarter-finals could come down to points difference.

"We're satisfied to get first one under our belt and get a win," Gatland said.

"They weren't an easy team to play against and competed hard on the ball but I was pleased with how the pack operated up front.

"Justin Tipuric had a strong game for us and we had a good impact off the bench. Aaron Jarvis popped a rib cartilage so he was in quite significant pain.

"He dug in deep for the last 20 minutes and maybe we would have had to go down to 14 men, but he put his body on the line which was impressive from him."

Asked if Wales needed to improve to beat England, Gatland replied: "I don't think there's much improvement at all really.

"Next week will be getting yourself mentally right because it's going to be a tough battle up front.

"It will be a mental and physical battle and we have to prepare for that, it's going to be tough with the crowd and the atmosphere."

Uruguay coach Pablo Lemoine said the South Americans, playing at their first World Cup since 2003 and the only amateur team at this year's edition, could be proud of their achievements in Cardiff.

"I don't worry too much about the result because the result is normal at that level," Lemoine said.

"I am proud of my players for the performance because the main thing for us is to try and improve.

"The feeling is positive because we don't play against a tier one country for the last 15 years and it is the first time the players play in front of 70,000 people.

"We knew it was going to be complicated after the opening minutes, but the atmosphere is not negative for us."

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