/ Rugby

Wales may resist sweeping changes

Updated: Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 08:30 | Comments

Warren Gatland's (right) Wales squad has been bit by several injuries
Warren Gatland's (right) Wales squad has been bit by several injuries

Wales coach Warren Gatland could make only two changes for Saturday's clash against Argentina despite being dealt a number of injury setbacks.

Enforced switches will happen at centre and tighthead prop, where injured pair Jonathan Davies and Adam Jones look set to be replaced by Ashley Beck and Paul James, respectively.

Reigning RBS 6 Nations champions Wales have been hit by injuries behind the scrum, with Davies joining pre-autumn Tests victims Jamie Roberts, Alex Cuthbert and Eli Walker on the casualty list.

It has raised the possibility of players being moved around in the back division, notably full-back Leigh Halfpenny to wing and possibly wing George North at centre.

Halfpenny, arguably world rugby's premier number 15, moved to wing duties after Liam Williams went off injured against South Africa last weekend, with the versatile James Hook going on as last line of defence and Beck replacing Davies, whose anticipated move to French club Clermont Auvergne next season has now been confirmed on a two-year contract.

Beck and Scott Williams are expected to remain as Wales' centre combination against the Pumas, although Gatland has previously indicated the possibility of one day selecting juggernaut Northampton wing North in midfield.

But asked if North was under consideration to change positions this week, Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said: "Not at this moment in time. George needs to get back to where he was last year.

"I was a bit disappointed with his performance (last Saturday) in terms of number of touches and getting involved in the game.

"We've spoken about it, both of us, and it is important that he plays on the wing on the weekend and gets involved in terms of his work-rate.

"His first cap against South Africa (three years ago), I think he made 20-odd touches. I think he only made seven on the weekend.

"We believe Leigh is one of the best fullbacks in world rugby, and we would like to keep him at 15. Putting Leigh to the wing, he hasn't played there for quite a while.

"In James Hook, Cory Allen, Ashley Beck and Scott Williams, we feel we have got strength in depth there (midfield).

"Jamie Roberts and Jon Davies are world-class players, and any back line in world rugby would miss them. It is that strength in depth you need to search for and develop. We haven't done too badly in that area when we have developed players like Leigh and George."

Gatland is due to name his line-up for the Argentina game on Thursday.

Scarlets back Liam Williams has a chance of featuring despite going off injured early in the Springboks encounter. If he is unavailable, then Gatland could opt to draft in Tom Prydie or his uncapped Newport Gwent Dragons colleague Hallam Amos on the wing.

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