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Warren Gatland has admitted that Liam Williams’ absence for Wales’ World Cup semi-final against South Africa is “undoubtedly a big loss”, but insisted the side was not any weaker in bringing in Leigh Halfpenny to fill the full-back position.
Liams, who has won 62 caps and started all Wales’ World Cup games except one, has been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament after picking up an ankle injury in an “accidental collision” during training this week.
“His prognosis will be established in the forthcoming days,” the Welsh Rugby Union said in a statement on Friday morning. “No replacement has been called up at this stage.”
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Halfpenny, Wales’ third highest record points scorer, replaces Williams at full-back for the Yokohama showdown on Sunday.
“He (Williams) is undoubtedly a big loss from an attacking perspective, and what he has achieved in the game in the last year or so,” Wales head coach Gatland said on Friday.
“But bringing in the experience of someone like Leigh Halfpenny gives us a different element.
“He is defensively probably the best full-back in the world in terms of his aerial game and coverage defensively.
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