Wales’ opening 54-9 World Cup victory over Uruguay on Sunday has come at a hefty price with hat-trick hero Cory Allen likely to be ruled out of the tournament and five other players left carrying injuries.
Placed alongside two-time world champions Australia and hosts England in the group of death, it is a hammer blow for Wales coach Warren Gatland who is already without star full-back Leigh Halfpenny and first-choice backs Rhys Webb and Jonathan Davies.
Allen scored three first-half tries as Wales took a 28-9 lead at the break. But the centre limped off 15 minutes into the second period.
“It looks like Cory Allen’s done a significant hamstring injury, but he’s going to be scanned tomorrow,” said Gatland.
Medics had said “it looks like Cory’s the one who has a significant tear in his hamstring and at the stage it looks like he’ll definitely need to be replaced.”
Full-back Liam Williams, the natural replacement for Halfpenny, also went off injured, but perhaps more worrying for Gatland is his front-row options.
Tighthead prop Samson Lee, making his comeback from a ruptured achilles tendon sustained in March, was replaced at half-time and loosehead Paul James after just 32 minutes, both complaining of tightness in the calves.
James’ replacement Aaron Jarvis, also the back-up hooker in a 31-man squad boasting only two specialists in the No.2 shirt, played the last 20 minutes in major pain.
“Liam Williams got a knock on the thigh, Samson Lee and Paul James have got tight calves, and Dan Lydiate had a head assessment and has passed that so he’s able to take a full part in training next week,” Gatland said.
“Aaron Jarvis actually popped a rib cartilage as well, nothing that’s too serious but he was in quite significant pain. He really dug in deep for the last 20 minutes on the field, maybe we’d have to go down to 14 men but he put his body on the line which is impressive for and from him.”
Gatland admitted that there might be a hard call to make after the usual 24-hour assessment period.
“We may have to make a tough decision on the props,” the Kiwi acknowledged.
“We’re carrying five props and at the moment we’ve only got three who can take the field, and we have to have four, so we may have to make a difficult call and replace one of the props.”
The Kiwi coach dismissed any link between the injuries and Wales’ gruelling training regime.
“Sometimes you just get a little bit of bad luck. Corey Allen’s pulled a hamstring, the others look like they could be a week, or three or four days, with knocks, that’s just what happens at this level.
“I don’t think you can blame the preparation, look at Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb getting injured, they were just unlucky, it happens in this sport.
“We felt very happy with the way we prepared and trained, but unfortunately we’ve picked up a few knocks but that’s rugby, that’s professional sport, there’s no doubt we’ll pick a few more.”
“The medical and conditioning staff have done a brilliant job.”