Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Wales hoping for Byrne boost

Lee Byrne
Lee Byrne

Wales boss Warren Gatland could receive some overdue good news on the injury front before next week's autumn Test series opener against Australia in Cardiff.

Gatland has already lost three British and Irish Lions - Lee Byrne, Leigh Halfpenny and Ryan Jones - from the Millennium Stadium clash on November 6.

Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies, meanwhile, suffered an ankle injury on Wednesday and could struggle to make the Wallabies encounter. Byrne, though, might be back sooner than originally anticipated after breaking a bone in his hand last weekend, with the Ospreys full-back thought to be hopeful of facing South Africa on November 13.

Byrne was expected to miss the Australia, South Africa and Fiji games, and was initially given only an outside chance of making Wales' autumn finale against New Zealand on November 27.

But Byrne is due to see a specialist next Monday, and he is thought to be optimistic about possibly being available to face the Springboks.

That would be music to Gatland's ears, although he now faces a testing time in selection before next Tuesday's scheduled team announcement ahead of the Australia match.

Davies, widely expected to fill one of the centre positions against Australia, suffered an ankle injury during training at the Wales squad's base in the Vale of Glamorgan.

There has so far been no update on the extent of his injury, but it could possibly be a recurrence of the ankle problem he sustained while on Magners League duty for the Scarlets against Newport Gwent Dragons last month.

Given the powerful Davies' lack of game-time since then, he had been set to be released for the Scarlets' appointment with Glasgow on Saturday.

If Davies is ruled out of the Wallabies Test - and his prospective midfield partner James Hook is moved to full-back as replacement for Byrne - then a new-look centre pairing of Andrew Bishop and Tom Shanklin could feature.

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