Wales rugby: Liam Williams & Alex Cuthbert out of All Blacks Test

Wales rugby: Liam Williams & Alex Cuthbert out of All Blacks Test
Wales rugby: Liam Williams & Alex Cuthbert out of All Blacks Test

Liam Williams made over 100 appearances for Scarlets
Autumn internationals: Wales v New Zealand
Date: Saturday, 25 November Venue: Principality Stadium Kick-off: 17:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Wales will be without Liam Williams and Alex Cuthbert for Saturday’s home game against New Zealand.

Full-back Williams (abdominal injury) and winger Cuthbert (calf) were injured in Wales’ 13-6 victory over Georgia.

Williams also misses the final autumn Test against South Africa because he must return to club side Saracens.

“No time frame for recovery has been set for either player. They have been released back to their respective club/region,” a WRU statement said.

Flanker Justin Tipuric [thigh] is back in training but tight-head prop Samson Lee [Achilles] is also considered a major doubt.

“He’s back training. He maybe could have played last week but we didn’t want to risk him.” defence coach Shaun Edwards said of Tipuric.

Wales 2017 autumn Tests, TV coverage
Sat, 25 Nov (17:15 GMT) Wales v New Zealand BBC Two Wales
Sat, 2 Dec (14:30 GMT) Wales v South Africa BBC One Wales

Wales were already without centre Jonathan Davies, who is battling to play again this season due to the foot injury sustained in Wales’ autumn opener against Australia.

Both Williams, who has won 45 caps, and 65 times-capped Davies were star performers of the Lions’ New Zealand tour earlier this year.

Williams, 26, started on the wing against Australia, before moving to full-back in the Georgia game.

He is arguably Wales’ most dangerous strike runner, and it is a considerable blow to their plans as they strive to avoid a 30th successive defeat against the All Blacks.

Wales v New Zealand: Steve Hansen on facing Wales and Warren Gatland

And it means that New Zealand will not be reunited with a player who impressed against the All Blacks throughout the Lions tour despite not being considered a likely starter before the first Test.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland is not due to name his starting line-up until Thursday, but it is likely that Leigh Halfpenny will be joined in the back-three by Hallam Amos, who scored tries against Australia and Georgia and the Scarlets’ Steff Evans.

Wales defence coach Edwards says injuries to key backs make the daunting task of beating the All Blacks even harder.

“It doesn’t come easy for us, to lose two backs and three of our starting backs is tough, but we just get on with it,” he said.

“We’ve gone from having probably the biggest backline in world rugby to having one of the smallest.

“I have one of the toughest jobs in world sport, being the defence coach trying to stop the All Blacks! But you know me, I am up for a challenge.”

Edwards also hinted that Jamie Roberts, who was not even selected in the original squad for the autumn Tests, could be in line for a recall, replacing Davies at 13.

“Jamie Roberts could come into the equation. There are three or four there to pick from,” he said.

“Gats [Warren Gatland] will evaluate it and come up with the best option. I think it’s a lot to ask him to defend at 13, for such a huge man. It would be nice to see him and Sonny Bill in a few collisions as well.”

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