Tipuric, Webb in doubt for Wallabies clash

Wales flanker Justin Tipuric is in serious doubt for Saturday’s Wallabies Test, continuing a horrific run of luck for the country's Test opensides.

Usual first-choice seven Sam Warburton was ruled out of the series long ago with a neck injury and Cardiff's Ellis Jenkins, who started for Wales in June with Tipuric and Warburton in the British and Irish Lions squad, suffering a gruesome hamstring injury in the Pro 14.

The string of bad fortune leaves Wales with an unusual shortage of openside options for Saturday, a far cry from their usual backrow selection headaches.

Neither Tipuric nor halfback Rhys Webb trained fully on Monday, but defence coach Shaun Edwards said the pair would be given every chance to prove their fitness for their opening end-of-year Test.

"We’ll just wait until the last minute, when we name the team on Thursday," he said.

 

"Obviously, we'll give them as much time as possible and then make an educated decision."

Edwards said he had confidence in their squad’s depth to fill the void.

“Sam (went down) and then Ellis Jenkins, I’m a huge fan of him as a player, I think he was outstanding on the tour in summer,” he aid.

“But it’s a position of strength in Wales, particularly in the Celtic league and this Pro (14) league, there’s a competition for the ball and I think it’s a good breeding ground for sevens.

Edwards will have plenty on his hands on Saturday, combating an attack he believes is one of the most potent in rugby.

“They’ve (got) immense attacking weapons, the most potent attacking force in the first three phases in World Rugby, even more than the All Blacks,” he said.

“(They were) averaging 32, 33 points a match in the Rugby Championship.

“We conceded (32) against them last year and that means we were average and I don’t like to think of ourselves being average, so hopefully we do better this time.”

Karmichael Hunt is the frontrunner to play 15 on Spring Tour. Photo: Getty ImagesThere will be no Israel Folau to counter this weekend, with the fullback well into a sabbatical, and while his absence is somewhat of a relief, Edwards said his potential replacements were just as threatening.

Karmichael Hunt was back in training with the Wallabies on Monday after a neck injury kept him out of the Japan Test, and appears likely to slot into that fullback position.  

“Karmichael Hunt, I think he played for Brisbane Broncos when he was 17, which is just an incredible feat,” Edwards said.

“Whoever they play at fullback it’ll be important for us, whether it be Kurtley Beale (or Hunt).

"Folau is an absolutely incredible player, we all know that, (but) I’m sure they’ll have someone to take his place.

“Am I glad he’s not playing on Saturday? A little bit, yeah.”

Edwards said Wales would need to ensure the Wallabies weren’t given the time and space to work their attacking magic, something they did against Japan.

“Our backs are a little bit smaller than what they used to be, a lot smaller than what they used to be,” he said.

“Their guys are so big and powerful if you give them time to get a run up at you, you could be in a bit of trouble.

“It’s something we’ve really worked on in the last sevens days was our line speed and we can take that into the game.”

The Wallabies take on Wales on Saturday November 11, kicking off at 5:15pm local, Sunday 4:15am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sport and SBS.

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