Injuries mean Wales may turn to Williams

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The Independent Online

Wales 28 - Argentina 13

Martyn Williams knew it was the end of something and paid the moment its due, bandying the word "privilege" around as though it were going out of fashion and talking about "living the dream". The last of his many international appearances on his beloved Welsh soil had ended in victory, he had pilfered his share of Argentine possession and had discharged his duties as stand-in captain with customary aplomb. He had also retired early with a bashed-up face. Such is the way of it with open-side flankers.

The question is this: did the World Cup warm-up victory over the South Americans at the weekend signal Williams' retirement from the Test arena? Having been overtaken in the Red Dragon pecking order by Sam Warburton, he is among a handful of loose forwards thought to be chasing a single place in the 30-man party for the forthcoming tournament and will discover today if he has been included.

Naturally, he was asked about his chances on Saturday evening, and dead-batted the inquiries in Boycottesque fashion. If he did not sound terribly optimistic, it was understandable: the man charged with making the decision, the head coach Warren Gatland, was sitting immediately to his left.

Having lost one Lions Test front-rower, the hooker Matthew Rees, to injury, Gatland is now deeply concerned that another, the prop Gethin Jenkins, may struggle to recover from a calf problem. This alone should concentrate his mind on the Williams issue, for hard-won experience counts for an awful lot in World Cup campaigns.

Encouraged by the return to form of the lock Alun Wyn Jones, who scored the best of his team's three tries by supporting a long-range attack launched by Tavis Knoyle and maximised by Jamie Roberts and the deeply impressive George North, the coach can head for his native New Zealand with a clear view of the road ahead.



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