Rugby World Cup Watch: Early Welsh exit now cast-iron certainty
The history books were already making it tough to foresee Wales making it beyond Pool A at the Rugby World Cup.
To reach the quarter finals, the Welsh were going to have to eclipse either of tournament hosts England or two-time winners Australia and this already looked unlikely.
Wales have been beaten in 13 of their previous 15 away encounters with England and are on a 10-game losing streak against an Australian side that will be buoyed by recent successes over South Africa and New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.
This already made odds of 8/13 on Wales failing to make it beyond the Pool stage for just the second time in five World Cups look attractive, but some new injury troubles only make this price more enticing.
Warren Gatland had already seen his ideal squad disrupted by injury.
Jonathan Davies ruptured his knee ligament in March and he had built up a solid understanding with Jamie Roberts in the centres, while Liam Williams has barely played lately and is still far from fit after foot surgery.
His return is now looking even more pivotal as reliable full-back Leigh Halfpenny is awaiting scan results on a knee injury of his own suffered in the warm-up win over Italy and the initial reaction didn’t bode well.
It is now virtually guaranteed that Gatland will be without the most reliable goal kicker at the tournament.
Halfpenny’s injury compounded an already dire day for Wales, as first-choice scrum off Rhys Webb was also stretchered off earlier against Italy with a leg injury of his own.
Webb is Wales’ current player of the year after scoring 19 tries for club and country last season from just 27 matches. His absence will be just as demoralising.
Throw in that Alex Cuthbert continues to look a shadow of his former self on the wing and Gatland’s meticulous planning for the World Cup appears to have encountered a gigantic roadblock.
Sorting out a route to the other side looks a major ask with the pool matches all done and dusted in a little over a month. The only good news is that Pool A whipping boys Uruguay are up first for a new-look Wales to test some things.
After that though it could be all downhill and don’t even be surprised if Wales finish fourth in the pool behind the unpredictable Fiji.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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