Liam Williams and Ellis Jenkins set to be fit for Wales against South Africa

Wales face tough Autumn Nations Series encounter against the reigning world champions

Andrew Baldock
Tuesday 02 November 2021 15:33
<p>Liam Williams is set to return against South Africa </p>

Liam Williams is set to return against South Africa

Wales look set to have Liam Williams and Ellis Jenkins in the selection mix for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash against South Africa.

And the Six Nations champions are expecting definitive fitness updates later on Tuesday surrounding skipper Alun Wyn Jones and flanker Ross Moriarty.

Both players suffered shoulder injuries and went off during the first-half of Wales’ 54-16 loss to New Zealand in Cardiff on Saturday.

They subsequently underwent scans, with Wales head coach Wayne Pivac delivering a positive immediate post-match assessment of Jones, although the prospects for Moriarty appeared less promising.

Jones hurt the same shoulder that threatened to sideline him from this summer’s British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa before he made a startling recovery and started all three Tests.

Hooker Ken Owens (back) and number eight Taulupe Faletau (ankle) have also had knocks, with full-back and wing Williams recovering from appendix surgery and flanker Jenkins shaking off a rib problem.

Cardiff forward Jenkins would be favourite to feature in the back-row alongside Taine Basham and Aaron Wainwright if Moriarty is ruled out.

Ellis Jenkins in action for Wales against South Africa in 2018 (David Davies/PA)

And should he receive the call from Pivac, it would be his first Wales appearance since suffering a major knee injury while starring against the Springboks three years ago.

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins said: “Liam trained yesterday and today, and he has been doing other aspects of training in the last few weeks. He is building up nicely.

“He is fit and available as far as I am concerned, yes.

“Later on last week, he (Jenkins) trained fully and he has trained fully over the last few days. Ellis is another one who is in contention to play on Saturday.

Wales assistant coach Neil Jenkins (Steve Haag/PA)

“What he has gone through is probably no-one’s business. For him to get back to this level and playing regularly at a level that he is used to… he’s a fantastic rugby player.

“He is incredibly tough, incredibly intelligent in terms of what he does, and if he were to play on Saturday, I think it would be an incredible achievement.

“It was three years ago, and he was man-of-the-match that day. Let’s hope, fingers crossed, that can happen again for him on Saturday, and he puts those demons to bed.”

On Jones’ situation, Neil Jenkins added: “If Al is fit and able to play, then brilliant.

“If not, then it is an opportunity for someone else to play against one of the best sides in the world and some of the best second-rows in the world.

“Of course, we want our best players fit and available. But if, for some reason, Al is not fit and right for Saturday, then it gives someone else an opportunity, and what an opportunity against these guys.

“You can’t go into your shell against this lot because they will certainly take advantage. We need to stand up for ourselves on Saturday and take the game to them.”

Wales have beaten South Africa on the last four occasions in Cardiff and are undefeated against the world champions at home since 2013.

“They are so physical and confrontational,” Jenkins added. “Their set-piece is exceptional, their aerial game is superb, and defence and kicking is very good too.

“They are one of the best sides for a reason, so it’s a good challenge for us on Saturday.

“Against South Africa, we need to be playing for the full 80 minutes, because they will be no different to New Zealand. They play a different way, but again, they can be very ruthless and efficient in what they do.”

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