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Four years ago this week, Rhys Webb and Leigh Halfpenny saw their World Cup dreams shattered. Both stars suffered cruel injuries against Italy at home in the last warm-up game for the 2015 tournament.
A cruciate knee ligament rupture for Halfpenny and a damaged foot for Webb saw the pair miss the World Cup and Wales shorn of key men.
Halfpenny plays against Ireland on Saturday, Webb would be here were in not for the directive introduced by Wales that bans him from playing for them while in France, as he is 29 caps short of their 60-cap arbitrary marker.
Leigh Halfpenny has a chance to force his way back into Warren Gatland’s plans for Japan
Webb won’t make a World Cup now, but barring a cruel repetition of history, Halfpenny will for the first time in eight years.
He is unsure of a starting place after form and concussion nightmares let Liam Williams overtake him, but in Dublin he has a chance to force his way back into Warren Gatland’s plans for Japan.
In truth he is probably not the one all Welshmen are most concerned about.
From Aberystwyth to Anglesea, Caerphilly to Cardiff, all will be praying the rugby gods do not strike down Alun Wyn Jones, Jonathan Davies, Dan Biggar or Ross Moriarty — the key players. Moriarty has been elevated to irreplaceable status after Taulupe Faletau was ruled out earlier
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