Stoddart's RWC dream over

by Staff Writer

Morgan Stoddart's dreams of playing in next month's Rugby World Cup appear to be over after the Wales back broke his leg during a 23-19 warm-up defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday.

The 26-year-old Llanelli star was only called into the starting side shortly before kick-off when fly-half Stephen Jones suffered a calf injury in the warm-up.

That led to Wales rejigging the team, with Stoddart - who was on the bench - taking over at fullback after Rhys Priestland moved to five-eighth.

But early in the second half Stoddart, who also plays wing, was carried off on a stretcher and afterwards coach Warren Gatland said the player had suffered a broken tibia (shin bone).

"Morgan looks like a bad break, it's a shame for him," Gatland told reporters.

Turning to Stephen Jones, who would have won a record 101st Wales cap if he had played, Gatland said:

"With Stephen, it was more precautionary than anything. We felt the calf was a bit tight and there might be a possible tear. If he pulls the calf, it's a six-week injury and he's out of the World Cup."

England manager Martin Johnson, speaking about Stoddart's injury, sympathised with the Welshman.

"It looked nasty, that's the nasty side of this time and the game, it looked pretty bad for him," he said.

"It's the harsh reality, players have got to play, going to a World Cup. The medics do everything they can to keep them in one piece. It's not nice to see something like that."

England too ended the match with fitness concerns after captain Lewis Moody, who missed the whole of the Six Nations, limped off before full-time having suffered an injury to what was a heavily-strapped right knee.

"I'm feeling much better," flanker Moody told reporters. "It's just a tweak to the knee.

"It (going off) was precautionary and we'll see how it is in the next couple of days. It's just a tweak, I had it nicely strapped up."

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