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Wales back Liam Williams forced out of World Cup with foot injury


Wales' Liam Williams has been forced out of the World Cup through injury.

Wales' Liam Williams has been forced out of the World Cup through injury.

Wales' Liam Williams has been forced out of the World Cup through injury.

Liam Williams has become the latest Wales player to suffer Rugby World Cup injury heartache as their casualty count continues to pile up.

The Scarlets back limped off nursing a foot injury during Saturday's 15-6 Pool A defeat against Australia at Twickenham.

The Welsh Rugby Union confirmed on Sunday that Williams will miss the tournament remainder and be released from the squad.

Williams, who can play full-back or wing, battled to overcome a foot injury during World Cup preparations in the summer, but he gained a place in head coach Warren Gatland's 31-man squad.

He was then concussed during the 28-25 pool win against England a fortnight ago, missing the Fiji game five days later, before returning to action when Wales took on the Wallabies.

Williams becomes the sixth member of Gatland's original World Cup squad to be ruled out by injury, following Leigh Halfpenny, Rhys Webb, Scott Williams, Hallam Amos and Cory Allen.

But Wales, despite being hit by repeated injury setbacks, emerged from the World Cup's so-called 'pool of death' in second place behind Australia, and they will face South Africa in next Saturday's opening quarter-final.

"We are very sorry for Liam. He has been outstanding in the last couple of years," Wales assistant coach and skills specialist Neil Jenkins said on Sunday.

"He's a huge player for us, and he did well again yesterday. He will be a huge loss, but we have had quite a few injuries now and we have to get on with it.

"If anyone comes in (to the squad) it will be an opportunity for them. We have enough players in the squad to cover at the moment.

"The amount of players we have lost isn't ideal. We are a pretty small nation anyway, but we still had a pretty potent back-line out there on Saturday and I am sure it will be the same again next weekend.

"Anything can happen in rugby. You prepare as best you can, and if we have to call some guys up they will be ready to go.

"We have had incredible bad luck, there is no doubt about that."

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Jenkins, meanwhile, allayed any fitness fears about centre Jamie Roberts, who went off near full-time, adding: "Jamie is going to be okay. He took a bump, but he will be fine for Saturday."

Fly-half Dan Biggar says that Wales will take inspiration from their recent history against South Africa when they head into punishing World Cup knockout territory.

Twice world champions South Africa now await in the last eight, while New Zealand have also loomed menacingly into view if Wales knock out the Springboks.

Had they toppled Australia - at one point the Wallabies were reduced to 13 men following yellow cards for Will Genia and Dean Mumm - then Wales would have booked an appointment with Six Nations rivals Scotland at Twickenham.

Wales were beaten 16 times on the bounce by South Africa between 2000 and 2014, yet Biggar and company triumphed 12-6 in Cardiff last November, just five months after a controversial late penalty try cost them a first Test win on Springboks soil as South Africa prevailed 31-30 in Nelspruit.

"We should have won the game out in South Africa in the second Test last year, and we had a great win in the Millennium Stadium last autumn," Biggar said.

"There is no denying that they will bring a varied game and it will be a huge, huge task to stop them. We will go into the game as underdogs, and we are looking forward to that and the challenge it presents.

"We are expecting a physical game, and they have been impressive after the opening weekend defeat against Japan. It's going to be a huge match, but our objective at the start of the tournament was to come out of the pool, and we've done that and we need to be positive."

And looking ahead to the knockout phase, Biggar's team-mate George North said: "Clearly, it's a tall order. I won't lie, but that is the World Cup, isn't it?

"Obviously, there are slightly easier routes to the final, but that is the path we are on and we will have to front up for it."

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