Wanted: Rugby players who can tackle and play fly-half, centre, wing, fullback and more. Must want to win the World Cup. Ability to speak Welsh a bonus. Odd bruise accepted.
James Hook and Gareth Anscombe were briefed to prepare for utility roles when they were rushed into the Wales squad on Monday as Scott Williams and Hallam Amos joined a growing casualty list.
Such was the depleted state of available bodies after the giant-killing victory over England on Saturday, attack coach Rob Howley said players had to be ready to fill multiple roles.
Wales are in a dominant position in Pool A, however they must still face Fiji and the undefeated Australians before their passage to the finals is assured.
In addition to losing centre Scott Williams (knee) and wing Amos (shoulder) from the tournament, fullback Liam Williams has been ruled out of their next match against Fiji in Cardiff on Thursday after being concussed by a boot to the head in the England clash.
The injuries add to those sustained by fullback Leigh Halfpenny, scrum-half Rhys Webb and centre Jonathan Davies before the tournament along with fellow centre Cory Allen was also ruled out following their first win against Uruguay
However Howley has no doubts about Hook and Anscombe, who were both a part of the wider training squad before the cup and can cover a number of positions.
“In terms of James, vastly experienced with 78 caps, can play many positions, and obviously Gareth, his experience in Super rugby, gives us the ability to play him at 15 as well.”
Other options under consideration were moving George North from wing to centre, and possibly match-winning fly-half Dan Biggar to fullback, Howley added.
Although Wales have only a five-day gap between playing England and Fiji, Howley said they could not afford to rest key players so they can be fresh for the final pool game against Australia a week later.
“We’ll pick our best side available,” he said acknowledging that could mean playing people out of position.
“For us it’s about the here and now. We won’t look for excuses. We’ve got players who can wear the Welsh jersey with passion and pride.
“They’re comfortable in some of the roles they’re playing in training, in attack, defence, they’re learning playing the game in other positions.”