Liam Williams Wales vs South Africa team news: No cause for concern as Leigh Halfpenny steps in to fill Liam Williams’ shoes

Liam Williams This is one huge ingredient!

On a wet and sodden Friday morning in Tokyo, it seemed only natural that the news coming out of the Welsh camp was as miserable in nature: Liam Williams’ Rugby World Cup was over.

The full-back, who has been the embodiment of consistency and reliability here in Japan, will now miss Sunday’s semi-final showdown with South Africa as well as the final or third-place play-off that follows.

Confirmation of Williams’ unavailability will have hit hard, the Saracens man sustaining an ankle injury in “an accidental collision” during training. “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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In Williams, the Welsh have lost a crucial component to their kick-and-chase game. The 28-year-old is assured as they come under the high ball, a towering presence with a safe pair of hands to match. His absence will surely enforce a change in tact from Warren Gatland, who may be less willing to adopt the aerial approach in exploiting the Springboks’ backline and attempting to pin them back deep in their own territory.

But more than this, Wales have also lost a penetrative attacking edge from their midfield. Williams brings a creative spark to the Welsh backline that enables the side to break the game line, with the full-back exceptional in surging from deep, gliding past defenders and making vital gains on the front foot.

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